China used 32 billion electronic waybills among 40 billion parcels in express delivery in 2017, with six-billion-meter wrapping tape that would be able to reach around the globe 160 times was saved, according to China’s latest express delivery sector green package development status and trend report.
Last year, 40 billion parcels were delivered across the country, up 28 percent year-on-year. “Given the rapidly-growing express delivery industry, parcel packaging pollution is inevitably increasing,” Zhu Lei, dean of the Qingdao Research Institute of Beijing Institute of Printing, said. But in terms of the reduction and recyclability of package waste, courier companies have made many breakthroughs, he added.
In 2017, the penetration rate of electronic waybills increased to 80 percent, saving 21 billion sheets of paper waybills. Compared to the traditional paper waybills with four or five layers per parcel, the electronic waybill has only one layer, the material cost of which is only a third of conventional ones.
Jingdong, one of the Chinese E-commerce giants, reduced the size of its 100 mm × 100 mm electronic waybill sheet to 100 mm × 70 mm. This change saves 10 million square meters of paper per year.
“Last year also saw major courier companies introduce reusable packaging, like environmentally-friendly transfer bags and boxes,” said Zhu.
Statistics show that the sector generated eight million tons of waste in 2017, accounting for two percent of total household waste. Ninety percent of paper packaging was reused in a variety of ways, and few paper products were disposed in landfill.
Zhu said that the biggest problem in the courier sector is how to deal with plastic products. Except for some plastic bags that can be recycled as renewable materials, most of the discarded plastic products will be incinerated to generate electricity and used for landfill.
The report pointed out that the cost of degradable plastic bags and tapes is at least two to four times that of existing plastic bags and tapes. “Using degradable plastic bags and tapes puts immense economic pressure on express delivery companies, and other alternative packages such as plastic-free cartons and zipper packaging have their own shortcomings,” Zhu added.
As for logistics transportation, a total of 12,988 new energy vehicles were used for express deliveries as of the end of June8. “Promoting an eco-friendly packaging and delivery system is inevitable for the high-quality development of the Chinese express delivery industry,” said Liu Jun, deputy director of the State Post Bureau.
Liu said the total energy consumption across the industry is expected to drop by 50% by 2020.