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Green groups to e-commerce giants: Less plastic, please

/ 05:04 AM October 12, 2021

DELIVERY SERVICE In this photo taken in August, a courier drops off packages at the entrance of a subdivision in Bacoor City, Cavite province. While courier services have become essential during the pandemic, environmental groups have called on e-commerce firms to be mindful of the plastic waste generated by their businesses. —LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines — Environment and climate groups have scored two e-commerce giants for failing to be more mindful of their plastic footprint despite calls from consumers and small businesses to cut down on single-use plastics in their packaging.

Following the Oct. 10 sale held by Lazada and Shopee, environmental campaigners said that both remain silent on demands to change their plastic-heavy business, despite warnings that it would worsen the impacts of plastic pollution on public health and the environment.

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In September, Greenpeace Philippines sent a letter to the two online shopping platforms to amplify the calls of concerned citizens to reveal, reduce and redesign their businesses.

A petition headed by Youth Strike for Climate Philippines and signed by nearly 15,000 people also called on both companies to develop policies to ensure the “rational reduction of unnecessary plastic packaging” such as excessive bubble wraps and multiple layers of plastics in their packages.

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“Once our orders reach our doorsteps … we are also confronted with another problem: unnecessary plastic packaging waste. It takes an average of just 12 minutes for plastic packaging to transfer from consumer hands to the trash bin,” the petition read. It was also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had already magnified the plastic pollution crisis in the country.

The signatories urged Lazada and Shopee to help small to medium-sized eco-friendly vendors by providing incentives to those who would reduce or eliminate plastics from their products and packaging. They also challenged the companies to think about reuse models for their packages, similar to those being practiced in other countries.

According to Greenpeace, neither of the e-commerce giants has so far responded to the issues raised. Lazada’s partner public relations agency only acknowledged the letter while Shopee “completely ignored” the demands.

In the Philippines, the use of e-commerce has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports showing a 55-percent growth in its market value in 2020. Analysts said that by 2025, Filipinos using e-commerce were forecast to reach 55.8 million.

Record profits

“With every sale they hold, Lazada and Shopee rack up record profits while leaving Filipinos to shoulder [the] cleanup for the tons of plastic packaging they caused,” said Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Jefferson Chua.

“All we are asking is for a commitment [from] these companies to start reducing [the amount of] plastic they use by working with sellers to review their plastic usage and implementing a business policy to halt the use of inessential plastic packaging,” he added.

The two e-commerce giants, said Chua, should invest in sustainable solutions already exhibited by small and medium enterprises, such as providing returnable and reusable packaging for their products.

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“While we recognize the role e-commerce industries play during the pandemic, their lack of accountability and initiatives to be more sustainable is only worsening the plastic crisis,” said Ecowaste Coalition campaigner Coleen Salamat.

“The petition shows that there is [a] strong clamor from consumers for Lazada and Shopee to lead the shift toward an e-commerce industry sensitive to the current situation of our planet,” she added. INQ

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TAGS: E-Commerce, environment protection, Greenpeace, Lazada, plastic footprint, plastic packaging, Shopee
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