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VIDEO | As China’s e-commerce sector develops, waste is piling up

Written by James Chan Published on   2 mins read

China stopped importing foreign plastic waste in 2017, but how will it deal with garbage generated within its own borders?

China was the world’s largest importer of plastic waste until a few years ago, as it was a way to cheaply acquire materials to recycle in the country and then use them in the domestic market. Yet, as much as 70.6% of such waste was buried or mismanaged, which triggered a series of environmental problems.

The Chinese government began to cut back on plastic trash imports in 2017. Now, the country has banned all plastic and solid waste imports. However, China still has to contend with its own domestic waste, which has grown significantly as the e-commerce and food delivery industries have developed over the last few years.

Just a decade ago, only 1% of global e-commerce transactions derived from China, but that has changed. The country is now responsible for over 40% of the world’s e-commerce deals, according to the World Economic Forum. The Chinese e-commerce and express delivery sector is estimated to have used some 9.4 million tons of packaging materials in 2018 and is expected to reach 41.3 million tons by 2025, Greenpeace and government bodies warned.

Both the government and the private sector have launched programs to implement sustainable initiatives in the e-commerce and express delivery sectors. Yet, a higher level of efficiency and strict implementation of measures are required to deal with the problem. To find out more about the waste management situation in China, and learn how various entities are tackling the country’s waste problem, check out the video below.

Read more: Can the Chinese e-commerce sector solve its waste problem? 

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