E-malls urged to practice less plastic use


    Greenpeace calls on the country’s e-commerce firms to introduce the use of sustainable alternative to plastic packaging and aim for lesser plastic use.

    MANILA — Ocean conservationist group Oceana reveals an overwhelming among of plastic waste caused by the significant increase in online shopping. The international group says, most of the waste will end up in landfills where they will not be recycled.

    Oceana’s data indicates a more than doubling of plastic usage from 942 million kilograms in 2019 to 2.056 billion in 2025.

    “What we now have is a perfect storm of incoming holidays, the persistence of the pandemic, and of course, the burden that these events produce to our planet in terms of packaging waste,” says Jefferson Chua, Greenpeace campaigner, during a briefing before the recent 9.9 online shopping events.

    According to the organization, it is the taxpayers who shoulder the costs of managing e-commerce waste.

    Reveal, reduce, and redesign packaging systems petitioned

    In November 2020, Youth Strike for Climate Philippines launched a petition targeting Lazada and Shopee to integrate zero-waste systems into their businesses.

    Meanwhile, both e-commerce companies have publicized efforts to implement more eco-friendly practices, their plastic packaging spree, however, continues, according to Greenpeace.

    “During the Philippines 12.12 sale in 2020, Lazada doubled its sales figures compared to 2019, and Shopee sold 12 million items in the first 24 minutes,” Mr Chua says.

    “These figures point to an astounding–and unsustainable–rise in plastic packaging. And yet, there’s no public data of exactly how much waste these companies produce. Neither are there any commitments whatsoever to reduce this.

    Filipino taxpayers–not Lazada or Shopee–pay for the cost of managing e-commerce waste. These companies need to come clean, take responsibility, and do their part to ensure their businesses do not continue to create pollution,” Mr Chua points out.

    In their petition, the groups demand that the two e-commerce ‘malls’ reveal their data on waste estimates, reduce waste production, and redesign their packaging systems to explore reuse an return packaging incentives.

    Alternative systems

    An alternative system in delivering packages that will render less waste is the deposit and return system, which is the concept behind JuanBag in collecting plastic packaging for upcycling into reusable bags.

    “The deposit and return system is what we hope to relive in our online transactions since we are in the era where everything is a click away and we’re seeing its environmental effects,” says Rachelle Lacanlale, founder of the JuanBag initiative.

    “That pushes us to rethink and redesign the way we’re doing our business.”

    According to Lazada, in a statement, “We have rolled out several key initiatives with our brand merchants and other industry partners all geared at equipping consumers with the knowledge to make more informed and discerning consumption choices and to provide them with access to sustainable packaging options.”

    Meanwhile, Greenpeace says the petition will be transmitted to the country offices of the two companies. As of press time, 14,289 have already signed up for the petition. (RA/The MiNT)

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