The popularity of online shopping has exploded in China. The Ministry of Commerce said on Monday that the country's e-commerce trade volume in 2016 hit 26.1 trillion yuan (3.8 trillion U.S. dollars) accounting for 39.2 percent of the global total.
Needless to say that's an awful lot of parcels. The State Post Bureau estimates that around 30 billion were delivered to homes across the country last year. And the adhesive tape used to wrap them could wrap around the Earth around 750 times.
Whoever worked out that statistic is a mystery but you might well be thinking what a waste of tape!
Actually, tape is just the tip of the iceberg. Plastic bags, cardboard boxes, bubble wrap...Most of these things can't be reused and are simply thrown into the trash.
The State Post Bureau estimates that package waste in 2016 amounted to around six million tons, the equivalent of the garbage generated by a major Chinese city.
Now the delivery industry in China is set to tackle this problem by replacing current packaging with a recyclable alternative.
But the process isn't easy. Very few express companies are prepared to spend the extra on recyclable packaging, which can be four to five times more expensive. Another problem is that companies tend to over-package goods to ensure a safe delivery.
Cainiao, the express company union created by e-commerce giant Alibaba, has pledged to replace half of its packaging by 2020. The State Post Bureau has also requested creating a recycling system for express packages by the same time.
CEO of Cainiao Tong Wenhong said that the key to solving this problem is industry standards.
Proper standards can prevent companies from "over-packaging", and help calculate the right costs for materials.
With China's online shopping market growing by the day, the pressure is really on for delivery companies to address the issue of waste.