Shanghai Food Packaging Guidelines Announced

Last week, as part of a continued process to address the growing waste problem that China’s urban waste systems are facing, the Shanghai government announced a new food packaging guidelines focused on reducing food packaging waste.

A problem that has grown with changes in urban lifestyles, which are often convenience focused, the soaring food delivery industry brings huge amounts of plastic packaging into the urban waste stream.

In Shanghai alone, there are an estimated 1.65 million deliveries per day, leading to approximately 45,000 tonnes of plastic container waste every year.

However, as announced by the Shanghai Quality and Technology Supervision Bureau, on June 1st 2018, new group standards for Shanghai take-away and online food delivery service will be put into place.

Developed in partnership with the largest delivery platforms, Eleme, Baidu ad Meituan, these new standards will look to reduce 75% of plastic waste through a shift to eco-friendly paper packaging and plastic bags will be replaced by paper bags, compostable bags and textile bags.

“After the implement of new standard, it is expected to reduce 10 million plastic delivery boxes every year. ”                                —  Zhang Yi, Sustainability manager, Eleme

Supporting this shift, food delivery platforms will need to provide lists of qualified suppliers for food packaging, and food providers who fail to implement the new standard will face platform specific punishments, including lower rankings, canceling platform subsidies, and being suspended or closed down.

As a first and necessary step against a visible challenge, what this regulation signals is recognition by the government that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. However, it is left to be seen what the wider systemic impact will be, or what costs are passed onto the consumer.

At the same time, while the regulation was developed in partnership with Eleme, Baidu, and Meituan, the impact on many other firms is something that will only come to light through time, but there is little doubt that any and all food or beverage providers need to move forward knowing that these regulations will lead to an industry wide standard.

Perhaps one that requires a significant, and painful, shift in process, and without regard for brand.

To learn more about this topic, feel free to review some of our previous posts or download our Informal Waste Report.

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