RECYCLING

Online vs Offline Commerce

Logistics leaders join forces to recycle packaging from 31bn parcels

In 2015, 7.5bn plastic bags, 10bn cardboard boxes, and 17bn metres of wrapping tape were used to ship parcels

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 3:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2017, 10:59pm

Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has established a non-profit foundation in Beijing with several leading logistics companies to promote environmentally-friendly transport services amid concerns over packaging waste.

The Cainiao Green Alliance Foundation will tackle the growing amount of packaging waste related to the country’s e-commerce boom. The bulk of packaging waste often ends up in landfills without being recycled, as the process is often deemed overly expensive.

The newly-established foundation will invest 300 million yuan (US$43.45 million) into research to foster environmentally-friendly practices throughout the logistics supply chain. It will also focus on innovations in packaging, the adoption of clean energy by delivery vehicles and using big data to optimise resources.

“Cainiao Network and Alibaba Group have a responsibility to take the lead in promoting environmental protection and green logistics,” said Judy Tong, chairwoman of Cainiao Network and Alibaba’s chief people officer.

“This effort can only be achieved by joining hands with other partners in the industry as well as contribution from the entire ecosystem that includes the government, logistics companies, merchants and customers.”

This effort can only be achieved by joining hands with other partners in the industry as well as contribution from the entire ecosystem that includes the government, logistics companies, merchants and customers
Judy Tong, chairwoman of Cainiao Network

The foundation is jointly being launched by Cainiao Network, together with six Chinese logistics companies – YTO Express, ZTO Express, STO Express, Yunda Express, Best Logistics and TK Express – as well as the Alibaba Foundation and the China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF).

Last year, data from China’s State Post Bureau showed 31.3 billion parcels were sent in the country, over a 50 per cent increase from the year before.

In 2015, 7.5 billion plastic bags, 10 billion cardboard boxes, and 17 billion metres of wrapping tape were used for shipping parcels, according to data from the Chinese Institute of Graphic Communication. Cardboard boxes used for parcels are often sealed with wrapping tape, making it difficult and costly to sort and recycle.

Such packing materials can take hundreds of years to break down, and will produce toxic fumes if incinerated.

Much of the problem has also been exacerbated by the lack of regulation when it comes to processing used packaging in China. In June, a waste-sorting policy was drafted by China’s economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission to introduce standards for recycling, sorting and collecting packaging waste.

This is not the first foray by Chinese logistics companies into environmental protection initiatives.

Last June, the green logistics initiative ‘Go Green Project’ launched by Cainiao and 32 Chinese and international partners aimed to make half of all packaging materials renewable by 2020, and included initiatives such as using 100 per cent bio-degradable envelopes, tape-less boxes, e-shipping labels and new energy delivery vehicles.

Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

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