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Packaging waste from China’s annual shopping spree increases burden on environment

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    15:13, November 16, 2017

Huge environmental pressure has been placed on China as its online shoppers enjoyed the happiness of unpacking parcels purchased during the annual online shopping festival, Xinhua News agency reported Tuesday.

Given an approximate weight of 0.2 kilograms per package, at least 300,000 tons of garbage has been generated from the 1.5 billion parcels delivered on Nov. 11, an insider told Xinhua News Agency.

According to a department manager surnamed Wang from an incineration center in Beijing, over 2,000 tons of garbage has been sent to the center each day after the shopping festival, mostly boxes, plastic bags, bubble wraps, and woven bags. However, the incineration center was designed to handle only 1,800 tons, Wang added.

In addition to the surging loads of garbage, garbage sorting still remains an issue and causes obstacles for treatment. “The packaging tape and foam are bad for the incinerators,” said Guo Tuanhui, party secretary of the Circular Economy Industrial Park in Chaoyang District, Beijing.

A single package generates at least 3 or 4 kinds of garbage, Guo noted, adding that paper packaging accounts for 15% of the total domestic waste in Chaoyang.

Approximately 1 million tons of garbage is generated from express delivery companies each year, causing huge resource waste and environmental pressure, said Yang Jun, deputy secretary general of the China Express Association.

Though environmentally-friendly packaging promotions have been carried out by Tmall, Suning, and other e-commerce platforms, green packaging only makes up a very small percentage of the total volume.

China’s State Post Bureau recently announced specific goals for a green courier sector. By 2020, half of all external packaging should be degradable, 90 percent of waybills should be electronic, and the packing material consumed for each parcel should be cut by 10 percent.

However, Researcher Yang Daqing from China Society of Logistics believes that in addition to greening the logistics sector, the country should also phase out over-packaging and improve consumer awareness in relations to environmental protection and garbage sorting.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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