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Retailing

China issues rules to promote sustainable packaging in logistics amid Double 11 and Christmas shopping boom

  • Chinese consumers received nearly 1.9 billion packages within 10 days of the Double 11 shopping festival
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 1:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 10:53pm

The Chinese government has issued standards to promote sustainable packaging materials in its billion-dollar logistics industry, as it looks to reduce waste in a country where millions of packages are delivered to consumers every day.

In a meeting attended by senior post officials, State Post Bureau Director-General Ma Junsheng said the industry should adopt Chinese president Xi Jinping’s mindset of “ecological civilisation” to “revolutionise” production and promote the development of sustainable packaging and lower the carbon footprint of the industry.

During the meeting, officials discussed and passed a working plan for the postal industry to transform itself as well as an implementation plan for the construction of an online government service platform to integrate the State Post Bureau. Guidelines for green packaging were also approved.

Ma called for postal administrations at all levels to promote green development and help drive this by pushing the implementation of tax reductions and incentives, as well as monitoring and assessing the environmental responsibilities of relevant parties in the industry.

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He also called for a reduction of the use of packaging materials in parcels, encouraged electronic waybills instead of paper ones, and called for more recycling of packaging materials.

The guidelines align with the goal of a cleaner and greener economy espoused in China’s 13th five-year plan, with the government committing to better environmental management and protection, emission controls, clean energy and the development of green industries, among others.

The call to action also comes amid China’s online shopping boom. In the last decade, the rise of e-commerce giants like Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, and JD.com has led to the ascent of logistics firms such as SF Express and ZTO. Many logistics firms are now billion-dollar companies and collectively, these firms deliver 76,000 parcels per minute, according to State Post Bureau statistics from 2017.

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Popular shopping festivals such as Alibaba’s Double 11, also known as Singles’ Day, contribute to the massive number of packages delivered to consumers every year. This year, Chinese consumers received nearly 1.9 billion packages – or about 1.4 for every person in China – within 10 days of November 11, the day of the Double 11 shopping festival.

Alibaba, which also operates logistics network Cainiao, has pledged to make logistics greener, employing “green warehouses” which package parcels with renewable materials, as well as implementing a recycling program at delivery points where packaging materials are collected and recycled. Alibaba has also developed biodegradable plastic bags and reusable paper boxes that use glue to replace the use of wrapping tape.

Rival platform JD.com also offers customers the option of reusable packaging, allowing them to return the box to the delivery man after receiving their product. JD.com said in a statement that its box can be used about 10 times.