Shoppers can return packaging from online deliveries for reuse in pilot project

This pilot trial aims to promote the concept of reusable e-commerce packaging in Singapore. PHOTO: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - Shoppers can now return the packaging from their online purchases to be reused in a pilot project to reduce packaging waste.

This effort, announced on Tuesday (April 5) by the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore (WWF-Singapore), follows a study published last November, which found that about 200,000 e-commerce parcels from various platforms are delivered across Singapore daily.

From now till September, shoppers who buy products from the online stores of participating brands or retailers can opt for reusable e-commerce packaging.

The packaging can be returned, free of charge, directly to the courier, at physical stores for brands which have these, or any Singapore Post mailing box, said WWF-Singapore.

More than 10 merchants are participating, including Cloversoft, which sells wet wipes, hand wash, and other hygiene products, as well as haircare product manufacturer Davines. Grocery store Unpackt, which has an outlet in Upper Thomson and an online store, is also participating.

WWF-Singapore, which has a retail website selling ecology-themed memorabilia such as plush toys and notebooks, is itself part of the pilot too.

Consumers can choose to be part of the pilot by checking the option when placing orders online.

This trial aims to promote the concept of reusable e-commerce packaging in Singapore and prove that a circular economy approach is possible, said WWF-Singapore in its statement.

The pilot "will showcase how Singapore's developed postal network can be utilised to support a robust reverse logistics supply chain to promote a circular economy".

The conservation organisation said insights from this pilot, such as the rate at which consumers opt in, the rate they return the packaging and the time they take to do so, will help build knowledge about consumer behaviour.

This knowledge is vital to scale up the pilot throughout the e-commerce industry, it added.

UOB, lead partner of the pilot, aims to bring together its clients and customers and rally its employees to play a role in this programme, said UOB chief sustainability officer Eric Lim.

The other partners of the project include SingPost, which is providing free return postage services, and packaging supplier Better Packaging, which is providing reusable packaging materials.

A study conducted by WWF-Singapore's Plastic ACTion group and management consultancy DHL Consulting, supported by apparel giant Uniqlo, found that on average, 200,000 e-commerce parcels from various platforms are delivered across Singapore daily in 2021, and this number is projected to grow by about 50 per cent by 2025.

Out of the 1.56 million tonnes of household waste generated in Singapore in 2018, approximately one-third was packaging, WWF-Singapore said.

The latest effort builds on an earlier initiative WWF-Singapore launched last year to enable individuals to help Singapore become a low-carbon, climate-resilient nation, it added.

"Called the Kosong Plan, it encourages individuals to make a difference by pledging to lead a more sustainable lifestyle by taking simple everyday actions to achieve their personal net-zero goals."

UOB's Mr Lim said a study by the bank released in March involving 800 small and medium-sized enterprises found that three in five believe in the importance of adopting sustainable practices.

"Among the top motivators are an improved brand reputation that will appeal to their customers and the contribution to a greener Singapore.

"This pilot initiative is a step in the right direction to encourage more companies, especially retailers and e-commerce players, to contribute to a circular economy and to forge a sustainable future."

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