Whenever you buy something online, it arrives in a lot of unnecessary packaging and all these layers of cardboard and plastic become a burden on the planet.

As such, Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the online shopping industry have jointly drafted “Guidelines for the Reduction of E-Shopping Packaging.” It is expected that the initiative will reduce packaging by 1,700 metric tons by the end of the first year.

According to a report by Liberty Times, Chang Tzu-ching (張子敬), Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in the internet era, online shopping has made ordinary people’s lives more convenient. However, too much packaging has created a burden on the environment.

Online shopping is estimated to create more than 80 million boxes and bags per year. Taiwan’s recycling rate is 60 percent, indicating that 40 percent goes to incineration. Zhang added that currently Taiwan has no legal limits on packaging for items purchased online.

Fortunately, the domestic commercial industry has independently reached a consensus on reducing packaging. More than half of Taiwan’s online shopping platforms and distributors are willing to cooperate.

Subsequently, guidelines have been jointly set up by manufacturing, government, academic, research and environmental groups. These companies ship about 42 million items per year, using about 17,000 metric tons of packaging materials.

After implementation of the reduction guidelines, Zhang expects that packaging materials will be reduced by 1,700 metric tons in the first year alone. The guidelines put forward a three-step packaging reduction plan, as follows:

  • By the end of 2019, the weight of packaging materials should be less than 10 percent of the total weight of the package, and the length of the sealing tape should be less than 2.5 times the total height of the package.
  • By the end of 2020, companies should be using a single recyclable material for packaging, with packaging made of a certain proportion or more of recycled materials. Printed space should be less than 50 percent of the packaging area, and packaging should not use PVC.
  • By the end of 2022, the proportion of recyclable packaging used for online shopping shipments should reach 10 percent.

The 12 online shopping platforms that have obtained the EPA-approved “Online Shopping Packaging Reduction Seal” include: PChome, Shopee 24h, Momo Shop, Yahoo Buy, Yahoo Supermall, Book Your Life, Buy123, PCstore, Senao, FPG shopping, Ikea and Ego888.

Additionally, the EPA has brought together the online shopping, packaging and logistics industries to create the “E-Shopping Packaging Reduction Alliance.”