China’s fight against excessive packaging continues as strict measures come into place
20 Oct 2022 --- The Chinese General Office of the State Council has released a notice to further strengthen the control over excessive packaging of commodities, calling for further efforts to prevent over-packaging of goods.
Furthermore, the China Development Network recently announced that by the end of 2025, postal express outlets nationwide would ban the use of non-degradable plastic packaging bags, plastic tapes and disposable plastic woven bags.
The notice says that a whole-chain administration system on over-packaging will be established by 2025, with improvements in corresponding laws and regulations, standard systems and industrial management.
Reducing excessive packaging
Packaging producers should provide overall solutions that are reasonably designed, easy to recycle, cost less and save materials.
In production, manufacturers should operate under mandatory standards for restricting excessive packaging of goods while drug manufacturers optimize drug packaging specifications.
Furthermore, sellers should be encouraged to require suppliers to provide simple and environment-friendly packaging, with strengthened supervision and guidance on the operation of e-commerce enterprises. Takeout food platforms should improve rules to require operators to reduce the amount of packaging.
According to the document, delivery companies are encouraged to utilize light and sturdy cartons. For recycling, systems for renewable resource recycling, waste collection and transportation will be further improved.
Finally, the notice calls for robust supervision and law enforcement, related support systems, and strong leadership for the implementation.
Green express packaging
The State Post Bureau revealed that it would accelerate the reduction, standardization and recycling of express packaging. “This is an inevitable trend and the greening of the express logistics industry must be accelerated,” Zhao Xiaomin, an expert in express logistics, says in an interview with a reporter from China Central Broadcasting Network.
By the end of this year, the number of recyclable express boxes will reach 10 million.
Excessive packaging or secondary packaging of e-commerce products makes express delivery more and more “fat,” or larger in scale than it needs to be. For example, an ordinary household item is covered with three layers of plastic bags inside and out, and a few small pens are placed in multiple boxes, says Xiaomin.
“Online shopping has become an indispensable part of our lives, but at the same time, a lot of household waste such as plastic packaging bags and cartons has also been generated.”
Innova Market Insights confirms this trend showing that more than half of Chinese consumers (57%) are concerned about the increased usage of plastic packaging but regard it as a necessary measure to prevent health risks. Meanwhile, only 23% of Chinese consumers believe the increased use of plastic packaging due to the COVID-19 pandemic is unnecessary.
Cold season, more packaging?
Traditionally, Chinese consumers favor hot beverages more than Western consumers. Whether it is beverages in supermarket convenience stores or ready-made ones in street beverage stores, consumers have many opportunities to acquire hot beverages during the cold season.
Chinese news channel HNR news reported that when beverage companies launch new products they also consider the special properties of hot beverages that require specific product packaging materials and raw material quality.
The industry has pointed out that the development of the hot beverage market has certain requirements for packaging materials, shelf life and heat control.
Therefore, beverage companies need to speed up innovation and upgrading, research and development of new products and reduce the cost of “warm drink cabinets” if they want to serve the warm drink market.
China had tightened regulations on the over-packaging and over-pricing of festival delicacies, such as mooncakes and hairy crabs, ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which took place last month. While such steps can reduce waste and protect consumers, they are said to also limit opportunities for corruption, according to an anti-graft expert.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival usually marked by family reunions, full-moon viewing, and the consumption of mooncakes. The hairy crab is also a mid-autumn delicacy throughout China, as it is in season at the time.
In August, the government said that during a two-month campaign, the State Administration for Market Regulation would provide administrative guidance for mooncake producers and step up training for law enforcement regarding excessive packaging.
While increasing spot checks on mooncake producers and retailers, market regulators paid special attention to luxury gifts produced by restaurants in the name of designing “cultural and creative products” and toughening punishment for irregularities, the administration said.
Furthermore, regulators enhanced the monitoring of online transactions and ensured that over-packaged goods are blacklisted for online retailing, said the administration.
Authorities also promoted simple and low-carbon package design and restored traditional cultural values in festival consumption.
By Natalie Schwertheim
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