Planet China

Red tape

Red tape

China’s love affair with online shopping shows no sign of abating. As we reported in issue 172, on November 11 records were shattered when Rmb19.1 billion ($3.07 billion) was spent at online store Taobao in a single day. But Guangzhou Daily says this trend comes with an environmental cost: the huge amount of PVC tape used by courier companies to ship the goods purchased online. The newspaper calculates that eight million parcels are ordered every day from Taobao, with two metres of tape used for each. Over a year that is 5.84 million kilometres of tape. But the waste is worse than this, as Taobao is not the only online source of such parcels. Guangzhou Daily says the Post Office calculated that in 2011 around 4.8 billion parcels were sent by courier in China (the bulk to online shoppers) and that the amount of tape was enough to wrap the Equator 120 times. PVC won’t degrade for 100 years, say environmentalists. The message: courier firms need to find ways to be less wasteful when they tape up the parcels destined for online consumers.

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