Green standards set for express packaging

Updated: Dec 20, 2023 By YANG ZEKUN China Daily Print
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China is to establish a green packaging standards system for express deliveries and has set an initial target for using recycled packaging, under a recently issued action plan for the industry.

Ten percent of recycled express packaging should be used for intracity deliveries by the end of 2025, according to the Action Plan for Advancing the Green Transformation of Express Packaging. The plan, jointly issued by eight central departments including the National Development and Reform Commission, the State Post Bureau and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, focuses on key areas and major issues to enhance standardization, as well as recycling, reduction and use of non-harmful materials for express packaging.

It requires building an effective standardized management system in the express delivery industry, and enhancing awareness about reducing packaging in the e-commerce and express delivery industries.

The plan expects substantial reductions in the excessive packaging practices of large e-commerce enterprises, and greater reuse of cardboard boxes, as it aims for a transformation toward green express packaging.

An official from the National Development and Reform Commission said that the express delivery industry has supported the development of China's online retail industry and played a crucial role in ensuring stable employment, livelihoods and a smooth economy. However, the substantial consumption of resources associated with express packaging puts considerable pressure on the environment.

In November 2020, the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued its opinions on accelerating the green transformation of express packaging. It outlined measures to strengthen the green governance of express packaging, enhance the regulation of e-commerce and express deliveries, increase the supply of green products, foster new models of circular packaging, and expedite the establishment of laws, standards and policy systems aligned with green principles.

The NDRC official said progress had been achieved in the past three years toward using non-harmful packaging materials and cardboard recycling. Yet, challenges remain in achieving the ambitious green transformation targets, and further efforts are needed, said the official.

The latest action plan advances the State Council's 2020 opinions and outlines tasks to be achieved by 2025, while taking into account factors such as industrial development, governance processes and responsible entities.

It also calls for action to promote green governance of express packaging, including training on relevant laws, regulations, and policies for e-commerce and express delivery industry operators. It also urges self-inspections and self-corrections by relevant enterprises, and wants e-commerce platforms to refine rules for reducing express packaging, and promoting the recycling and reuse of materials.

Authorities are called on to fulfill their duties, collaborate closely, provide guidance to local authorities, address difficulties in implementing the plan, and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its implementation by the end of 2025.

The plan also urges relevant departments to accelerate the issuance of mandatory standards restricting excessive express packaging, and revise standards in key areas such as green products and recyclable express packaging.

In 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, during the inspection of solid waste law enforcement, focused on the design, production and recycling of packaging materials in industries such as express delivery. It urged procuratorial authorities to cooperate with law enforcement inspections and jointly supervise the industry.

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