Taiwan launches environmentally friendly packaging campaign

EPA chief Chang Tzi-chin, left, attend a press conference at Ximending shopping district for the launch of a collaboration project with 12 major online shopping companies. (Courtesy of the EPA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — An environmentally friendly packaging campaign was launched Monday by the government and online shopping retailers with the aim of reducing the roughly 1,700 metric tons of packaging materials used for products sold online within a year.

At a press conference held in the busy Ximending shopping district, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced the launch of the project and awarded participation certificates to 12 major online shopping companies that are cooperating with the EPA.

“I hope that through our joint efforts, we can contribute to environmental protection efforts without sacrificing the convenience brought to us by the age of the Internet,” EPA chief Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) said.

Chang thanked the 12 online shopping companies for voluntarily cooperating with the government, as there is currently no law regulating the packaging of merchandise. He also encouraged consumers to buy from retailers that have received the participation seal from the EPA.

He said that as online shopping has become a way of life, more than 80 million packaging boxes or bags, including foam and other protective materials, are used every year by online shopping retailers.

In Taiwan, only about 60 percent of packaging materials are recycled, with the rest incinerated, which is a problem for the environment, Chang lamented.

According to the EPA, the project will be implemented in three stages.

First, online shopping retailers will limit the weight of packaging materials to less than 10 percent of the total weight of the merchandise, and the stretch of packing tape to be applied to the box will not exceed 2.5 times the box’s length and height. The objectives are to be achieved by the end of the year.

The second stage is to use boxes made of recyclable materials, to limit the printed area to 50 percent of the box, and to shun polyvinyl chloride materials. This is to be accomplished before the end of 2020.

Thirdly, online retailers will have to use reusable boxes in 10 percent of their deliveries, with a fulfillment target at the end of 2022.

The EPA estimated that the 12 participating companies sell 42 million items annually, which translates to the use of 17,000 metric tons of packaging materials. With the new project, roughly 1,700 metric tons of packaging materials can be reduced in a year, it said.

By Emerson Lim