The EPA announced in the early part of 2023 the Targets and Measures for Restrictions on Internet Shopping Packaging (網際網路購物包裝限制使用對象及實施方式), which have been put into effect as of 1 July 2023. The aim is to reduce the usage of packaging materials in online shopping at the source, thereby lowering the overall amount of online shopping packaging waste.
According to the regulations, all internet retailers are prohibited from using packaging materials containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Paper packaging materials must contain at least 90% recycled paper, and plastic packaging materials must incorporate at least 25% recycled materials. Additionally, medium-sized businesses with a capital of NT$50 million or more, or with 300 or more self-owned pickup points, must also comply with product packaging weight regulations. Large businesses with a capital of NT$150 million or more, or with 500 or more self-owned pickup points, must further adhere to annual reduction targets and result reporting requirements.
Various e-commerce operators have responded to the regulations by making adjustments to their packaging materials and operational procedures, all working together to reduce waste. Taking the well-known company PChome as an example, it has optimized the system for matching products with suitable boxes during shipping, implemented additional weight checks for packaging, and uses smaller boxes instead of bigger ones. They have also optimized their shipping system to consolidate products from different warehouses into a single shipment, thus reducing space wastage. Moreover, they now use 100% recycled paper pulp to make their cardboard boxes, minimize printing, and avoid bleaching the boxes. PChome stated that increasing the usage ratio of the volume of boxes and reducing external packaging also enhances loading efficiency and reduces the cost of delivery trips, thereby achieving a reduction in carbon emissions.
Some companies have also redesigned cardboard boxes and cushioning materials, as well as designed and adopted tape-free cardboard boxes. The EPA recently invited the environmental protection bureaus to discuss and establish inspection principles. They will initiate on-site inspections of shipments from centralized warehouses and prioritize large-scale enterprises as the initial targets for inspections before the end of the year.
Since 2019, the EPA has been implementing the Online Shopping Packaging Reduction Guidelines (網購包裝減量指引). In comparison to 2019, where the average weight of packaging materials for each online purchase was 0.322 kg, by 2022, it had decreased to approximately 0.248 kg, representing a weight reduction of about 23%. This year, the EPA is introducing the Online Shopping Packaging Reduction Guidelines 2.0(網購包裝減量指引2.0) and it is expected that after its implementation until 2030, a target of nearly 50% reduction in packaging material weight will be achieved.
Through legislation, the EPA aims to enable businesses to provide consumers with convenient services while simultaneously improving standard packaging and shipping processes. Complying with the regulations will help businesses to reduce the costs of packaging material procurement and logistics, offering consumers a new model of online shopping services. The ultimate goal is to achieve the effect of reducing packaging waste in e-commerce, leading to "less packaging for shipping, reduced packaging waste, and less environmental burden."
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, June 2023
- Ministry of Environment