COVID-19 has accelerated e-commerce and packaging use. As the trend persists, it will be key to encourage businesses and consumers to engage in the circular economy, and develop on-ground waste management and recycling solutions to prevent ocean plastic
SHANGHAI • If you worry about all the waste generated by the annual rush of holiday shopping and gift giving, it is nothing compared with the mountains of discarded packaging that comes from a single event in China.
On Nov 11 each year, the worlds biggest consumer market goes into overdrive as e-commerce giants like Alibaba Group Holding and JD.com lure shoppers with huge bargains during the Singles Day sale.
Alibaba reported almost 500 billion yuan (S$102 billion) in sales this year, nearly four times the United States Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending combined.
Online shopping in China generated 9.4 million tonnes of packaging in 2018, according to Greenpeace, which projects that the amount could rise to 41 million tonnes by 2025, about the same as all the waste produced by Japan in a year.
As President Xi Jinping pushes for stronger environmental protection and consumers grow more eco-conscious, Chinas e-commerce giants are under pressure to find greener ways to handle the annual event, starting with plastic.
The countrys soaring use of the material has become one of the worlds most pressing environmental issues, but switching to other materials is costly for smaller businesses and the government has struggled to implement a plan to phase out single-use plastics.
For Singles Day this year, Alibabas logistics arm Cainiao designed recyclable corrugated cardboard boxes that do not have to be sealed with plastic tape.