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China to Further Strengthen the Governance of Excessive Packaging for Commodities

China is going to intensify efforts in managing excessive packaging through the whole supply chain, covering production, sales, delivery and recycling stages. Commodities like cosmetics, health food, edible agricultural foods, takeaway food, and express parcels are underlined.

On September 8, 2022, China's State Council released a notice (hereinafter the Notice), announcing to further strengthen the governance of excessive packages for commodities. The Notice pointed out that all the involved departments should fully understand the importance and urgency of this task. Departments shall clarify and detail requirements to manage excessive packaging through the whole supply chain, covering production, sales, delivery and recycling stages. Commodities like cosmetics, health food, edible agricultural foods, takeaway food, and express parcels are underlined. The implementation of this Notice is expected to provide strong support for China’s transformation to green production and green life.

To be specific, the Notice puts forward an objective which lasts until the end of 2025, to generally build a whole-chain governance system for restricting the excessive packaging of commodities, advance relevant legislation system, improve governance capacity, and curb the excessive packaging for key targeted commodities like cosmetics, tea and mooncake. To achieve the objective, the Notice proposes 11 measures in three aspects and designates responsible authorities for each measure. The major content is as below.

No.

Measures

Major steps

Major responsible authorities

A) Fortifying the whole-chain governance on excessive packaging

1

Strengthening technological innovation in packaging

Propelling packaging enterprises to provide packaging solutions, which should be reasonable in design, material-saving, convenient in recycling, and affordable.

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and local governments

2

Preventing the production of excessive packaging for commodities

  • Urging producers to strictly follow relevant mandatory standards,  detail the requirements of managing excessive packaging, and set up archives to record packaging information.

  • Guiding producers to simplify commodities’ packaging, optimize packaging design, decrease packaging layers/materials/costs, lessen packaging volume and weight, reduce ink printing, and use single material or materials that are easy to separate.

  • Disclosing the packaging standards that producers implement.

MIIT, State Administration and Market Regulation (SAMR), and local governments

3

Avoiding the sales of overpackaged commodities

  • Guiding sellers to stop selling commodities that violate the mandatory standards related to excessive packaging.

  • Strengthening the supervision of e-commerce enterprises, and raising same requirements for online sales just as offline.

  • Encouraging sellers to raise requirements for green packaging to their suppliers.

  • Urging takeaway delivery platforms to put forward relevant requirements to merchants on their platforms.

  • Guiding catering operators to mark the price of takeaway products’ packages clearly.

Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), SAMR, and local governments

4

Boosting the reduction of packaging in the delivery stage of commodities

  • Leading express delivery enterprises to release/revise their packaging operation norms to restrict excessive packaging.

  • Promoting green delivery packaging certificate.

  • Encouraging the design and application of packages that suit express delivery commodities.

State Post Bureau (SPB), SAMR, MOFCOM, MIIT, and local governments

5

Intensifying the recycling and disposal of packaging waste

  • Perfecting the recycling system of renewable resources and improving the recycling level of packaging waste.

  • Encouraging commodity sellers and suppliers to agree on the recycling of commodity packaging waste.

  • Continuing to promote the classification of household waste, etc.

MOFCOM, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD), and local governments

B) Reinforcing supervision and law enforcement capacity

6

Enhancing industry management

  • Detailing the requirements to restrict excessive packaging in the production, sales, and delivery stages.

  • Further supervising e-commerce, express delivery, and takeaway delivery industries. Urging stakeholders to give priority to the use of reusable packages or packages easy to be recycled.

  • Urging producers and operators to implement relevant regulations.

  • Grasping the excessive packaging situation in the industry timely.

MIIT, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOARA), MOFCOM, SAMR, SPB, etc.

7

Intensifying market supervision and law enforcement

  • Paying high attention to the packaging of key commodities such as mooncakes, zongzi (traditional Chinese sticky rice dumplings), tea, heath foods (similar to the concept of nutrient supplements in other countries), and cosmetics.

  • Setting a mechanism to regularly supervise the excessive packaging of commodities on e-commerce platforms.

  • Carrying out inspections on the packages of express delivery commodities.

  • Facilitating consumers to make complaints about excessive packaging, etc.

SAMR, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), SPB, and local governments

C) Bettering the support and guarantee system

8

Completing laws and regulations

  • Studying and promoting the alignment of laws (e.g., the “Circular Economy Promotion Law”) and regulations (e.g., the “Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste”).

  • Studying and revising the management and punishment requirements for restricting excessive packaging in the express delivery industry.

  • It is encouraged to issue local regulations restricting excessive packaging.

NDRC, Ministry of Justice (MOJ), SPB, and local governments

9

Perfecting the standard system

  • Formulating mandatory standards for restricting excessive packaging of edible agricultural products, and clarifying the basis for determining excessive packaging of edible agricultural products such as fruits.

  • Timely revising the mandatory standards for restricting excessive packaging of food and cosmetics with detailed requirements.

  • Formulating mandatory standards to restrict excessive packaging in the express delivery industry, etc.

SAMR, MOARA, MIIT, SPB and MOFCOM

10

Increasing policy support

  • Covering the funds needed in relevant law enforcement activities in the financial budget to ensure the organization of inspections, etc.

  • Arranging budget to support projects such as the establishment of recyclable express packaging distribution system, and the construction of intelligent recycling facilities.

  • Improving the government's green procurement policy.

  • Carrying out technical research and development in the green packaging design of express parcels, etc., by relying on the deployment of national key R&D projects.

NDRC, Ministry of Finance (MOF), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), and local governments

11

Enhancing industry self-discipline

  • Guiding major industry associations in food and cosmetics sectors to regularly release reports about excessive packaging of commodities and disclose the packaging situation in the industry.

  • Increasing the training about relevant laws, regulations, and standards on restricting excessive packaging of commodities. Guiding major production and sales enterprises to take the lead in promoting simple packaging, etc.

MIIT, relevant industry associations, etc.

To better implement the 11 measures above, involved departments shall coordinate with each other and communicate about the progress timely. Local governments at all levels will be the major responsible bodies for the governance of excessive packaging. They can further research and formulate specialized policies during the practice. In addition, authorities will educate the public about regulations restricting excessive packaging via newspapers, TV, and other media.

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