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More Treasure Than Trash

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Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 662-663
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.662

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  • RE: Pollution Threat of E-commerce in China
    • Kun Yang, Professor, School of Information Science and Technology, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, 650500, China.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Xixi Lu, Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, 117570, Singapore.
      • Mingchan Li, Postgraduate, The Engineering Research Center of GIS Technology in Western China, Ministry of Education of China.
      • Rongfeng Yang, Postgraduate, The Engineering Research Center of GIS Technology in Western China, Ministry of Education of China.
      • Shaohua Zhang, Ph.D. candidate, The Engineering Research Center of GIS Technology in Western China, Ministry of Education of China.

    The data from Statista, a German statistical firm, show that China is by far the biggest market for online retail. China’s Business-to-Customer e-commerce turnover amounted to 975 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, 33.5% higher than the United States. However, the waste material from the packages has been a heavy environmental burden with China’s e-commerce booming.

    The packaging of E-commerce used by express industry includes the wide variety of materials such as waybills, cartons, plastic bags, woven bags, envelopes, tapes and foam fillers. On the national scale, about 8.3 billion plastic bags, 9.9 billion cartons and 17 billion meters of adhesive tapes were expended in 2015[1]. And express packaging generated over 4 million tons of waste. On the regional scale, Eastern China produced over 100 million tons of consumption wastes in 2015, while the figures were 46 million in Central China and 40 million in Western China. The Investment in Anti-pollution Projects as Percentage of GDP accounted for 14%, 10.5% and 23.3%, respectively in Eastern, Central and Western Region. Obviously, Western China is suffering the largest pollution burden because of the imbalance of economic and technological development.

    The vast majority of waste packaging can only be buried or incinerated, creating worse environment pollution[2]. The incomplete recycling system has caused a low recovery rate of less than 20%. There is no a national standard to regulate the packaging of online good...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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