Public interest groups have called for a zero-waste and toxics-free society as they urged top e-commerce sites to reduce their plastic use and packaging waste.
Through an open letter, over 150 diverse groups called on Lazada, Shopee, and other online shopping sites to take concrete steps to cut their packaging footprint as the country and whole world grapple with increasing plastic waste and pollution crisis.
“We make this appeal to all online shopping platforms to heed our plea for sustainable e-commerce that will not cause further harm to our ailing environment and climate, and endanger the health of humans and other living organisms,” said Patricia Nicdao, policy advocacy officer of EcoWaste Coalition
“It’s high time for e-commerce giants and other players to innovate and do away with excessive, non-recyclable plastic packaging.”
The groups wrote: “With the surge in e-shopping, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot help but be concerned about the huge amounts of plastic packaging produced, consumed and disposed of by the multi-billion peso online retail industry.”
“The plastic packs, wraps, cushioning materials and bubble-lined mailers for the countless online deliveries are hardly recycled,” the groups observed.
The groups lamented that much of these packaging wastes are going straight to garbage bins, buried in landfills, incinerated in cement kilns, clogged in drainage canals and river systems, or dumped into the world’s oceans harming marine life.
“As two of the top e-commerce sites in the country, we appeal to Lazada and Shopee to set a good example in preventing and reducing the generation of packaging waste, particularly by diminishing plastic use, from online retail transactions,” the groups said.
The groups presented the following six-point recommendations to the online shopping giants and others to cut down on their plastic use and packaging waste:
- Make public their plastic footprint (i.e., types and quantities of plastic packaging materials used annually);
- Adopt a plastic packaging waste prevention and reduction policy, including plastic-free packaging choice at checkout, returning used packages with reverse logistics and other schemes, and incentives for reduced packaging;
- Transition to ecological and safe options for delivering goods, including appropriate product packaging, to reduce disposable and unnecessary plastic and packaging waste;
- Implement time-targeted and measurable phase-out plans for plastic packaging materials;
- Communicate such phase-out plans to manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers; and to
- Create a merchants’ section for those who sustainably package their products.
The groups likewise urged e-commerce sites to offer, partner with, and provide incentives to developers, makers, distributors, dealers and customers of ecological alternatives to single-use plastic bags, sachets, cups, cutlery, beverage and water bottles, straws and even diapers, panty liners and sanitary pads.
Aside from providing customers with a plastic-free shopping experience, the groups further urged online shopping platforms to purge their sites of products that pose health and safety risks such as non-compliant toys and childcare articles, contraband cosmetics containing lead, mercury and other contaminants, banned mercury-containing medical devices, proscribed or recalled products, etc.