In March 2021, the “Principles, Requirements and Guidelines for Eco-Design of Express Packaging“, proposed by the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS), was approved by ISO. A specific working group for this standard will be established soon.

At present, although ISO has issued the “Packaging and Environment” standards series, it has not yet carried out research on express packaging standards. The standard proposal “Principles, Requirements and Guidelines for Eco-Design of Express Packaging” focuses on resource and environmental issues throughout the life cycle of express packaging. Specifically, based on China’s practices, methods, and technical experience in the greening of express packaging, and adhering to the principle of ‘reduced, harmless and recyclable package’ for express delivery, the standard proposal puts forward the requirements for the establishment of the express package recycling system, express package evaluation, and the collaborative responsibility of upstream and downstream related industries. It will provide guidance and reference for the green design of express packaging, at the same time improving and supplementing the existing ISO “Packaging and Environment” series standards.

In 2020, China’s express delivery business volume reached 83.36 billion pieces. According to industry estimates, China’s express delivery industry consumes more than 9 million tons of paper waste and 1.8 million tons of plastic waste each year. Greening has therefore become a key priority and focus of China’s express packaging standardization work.

In 2018, China revised and released the GB/T 16606 “Express Packaging Supplies” series of national standards, adding various requirements for reducing express packaging and making it harmless. In addition, GB/T 39084-2020 “Green Product Evaluation Express“, was issued in June 2020 to guide the development of green product certification for express packaging. Recently, China has started to develop a mandatory national standard for the “Limits for Heavy Metals and Specific Substances in Express Packaging“, which is led by CNIS.

In terms of policies, in August 2020, eight departments including the State Administration for Market Regulation, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Post Bureau, jointly issued the “Guiding Opinions on Strengthening the Standardization of Express Green Packaging” – proposing to “establish a strict and binding express green packaging standards system”. The guiding opinions represent the policy basis for China to carry out the standardization of green express packaging in the upcoming months.

The development of the international standard “Principles, Requirements and Guidelines for Eco-Design of Express Packaging” will facilitate the inclusion of China’s green and low-carbon practices in express delivery companies in the text of the standard, and ultimately enhance China’s role in leading the global movement to reduce plastic and limit plastic, as well as low-carbon development.