- The Cainiao Network, Alibaba's logistics team, is set to address the burgeoning waste problem resulting from online purchase packaging, the South China Morning Post reported.
- The network's new non-profit, the Cainiao Green Alliance Foundation, has invested $43.45 million dollars into research toward sustainable packaging alternatives. Other network members include YTO Express, ZTO Express, STO Express, Yunda Express, Best Logistics and TK Express – as well as the Alibaba Foundation and the China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF).
- An average of 7.5 billion plastic bags, 10 billion cardboard boxes, and 17 billion meters of wrapping tape were used for shipping parcels in 2015, very little of which was recycled. China has few regulations for the disposal of used packaging, with most of it going to landfills.
Though China has begun the process of establishing recycling initiatives, the current impact of packaging detritus crowding landfills is being addressed by private industry rather than government. As a result, recycling systems, particularly for cardboard, should be optimized for maximum efficiency and lowest cost.
At present, cardboard balers are considered ideal for this purpose. Once collected, the material is soaked with water to become pulp, which can then be refashioned into paper for books, newspapers and magazines. Setting up free recycling sites for consumers will enable Cainiao and other companies to accumulate enough pulp to reuse.
The question is whether pulpers exist at a sufficient level to make recycling possible. If not, further initiatives can go in one of two directions: grow the cardboard and paper recycling industry into a going concern, or create packaging alternatives with a lower environmental impact. Given the type of investors involved in the Cainiao Green Alliance, either option seems possible, if not a combination of the two.