Online Shopping Packaging Survey 2021

Online shopping sweep worldwide in recent years. In addition to the pandemic, an escalating number of shopping online purchase leads. With reference to the the survey conducted last year, we gained support from the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), the follow-up survey is under the umbrella of “Green Online Shopping” campaign. It is estimated that, there were 780 million pieces of plastic package generated by online shopping in Hong Kong last year.

Green Sense conducted a survey regarding the packaging of local online shopping in May to June 2021. 17 on-street survey and recycling station were set up.  209 entries were collected from the station and online. This survey is to study the current online shopping habit of Hong Kong citizens, the amount of packaging materials stemmed from online shopping, and post-consumption action taken. Measurements were taken in the station, in order to find out the adhesive tape usage in online shopping. The key findings are listed in the following:

  1. Over-packaging is more severe, with weaken awareness in general
    Summing up 828 items purchased, 1441 pieces of packings were used. the average packing materials used was 2.32, 6% increased compared to 2.18 pieces in 2020. The worst case was 9.5 units of packaging materials used for one item. At the same time, only 35% respondents agreed their merchandises were severly over-packaged. A decrease in 16% was remarkable. (51% shared the same view in 2020).
  2. Merchandises are wrapped in mixed materials which is hard to recycle
    Single online purchase used 2.71 different materials for packaging in average. 26.5% interviewee stated there were at least 4 types of packaging materials used in their orders. To the extreme, 9 different materials were found, including carton box, bubble wrap, delivery plastic bag, adhesive tape, honeycomb bubble bag, foam filling, air bag, wrapping paper and newspaper. Distinguishing recyclable materials would not be easy for citizens when an array of different packaging materials came at once. Some respondents used to think only paper is recyclable, other materials were trashed instead of being recycled.
  3. The abuse of Adhesive tapes were common
    49 samples were taken to measure the use of adhesive tapes and the dimension of carton boxes. 24 of them were used more than 2.5 times in a ratio of the length of the tape used to the box dimension. Areas away from the edge were covered by adhesive tape.
  4. Respondents hope online shops can reduce unnecessary packagings
    Over 70% of the respondents hope online shops can reduce unnecessary packagings. At least 46% respondents opted for other environmental-friendly means: Select recyclable materials for packaging, use recycled materials for packaging, recycle and reuse pre-owned packagings. Some of them wished the recycling point can set up at the retail stores and delivery collection point.

From the above point of views, Green Sense urge the government to consider Producer Responsibility Schemes on online shopping packaging. The responsibilty of packaging recycling, treatment and discard should be shared by the online purchase platforms and logistics companies. Online purchase packaging guidelines should be applied in the related sector, so as to reduce the waste at source. Quantities of delivery plastic bags, and other plastic fillings should be included in the report of “Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong”. In the long run, reusable delivery bags should replace single-use delivery bags.

More about Green Online Shopping:https://www.greenonlineshopping.com/