Over 150 Groups Tell Lazada and Shopee: Reduce Plastic Use and Packaging Waste

As the 11.11 one-day super online sale gets underway today, public interest groups for a zero waste and toxics-free society urged top e-commerce sites to reduce their plastic use and packaging waste.

Through an open letter, over 150 diverse groups called on Lazada, Shopee and other online shopping sites to take concrete steps to cut their packaging footprint as the country and whole world grapple with increasing plastic waste and pollution crisis.

“We make this appeal to all online shopping platforms to heed our plea for sustainable e-commerce that will not cause further harm to our ailing environment and climate, and endanger the health of humans and other living organisms,” said Patricia Nicdao, Policy Advocacy Officer, EcoWaste Coalition, stressing “it’s high time for e-commerce giants and other players to innovate and do away with excessive, non-recyclable plastic packaging.”

“With the surge in e-shopping, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot help but be concerned about the huge amounts of plastic packaging produced, consumed and disposed of by the multi-billion peso online retail industry,” the groups wrote. 

“The plastic packs, wraps, cushioning materials and bubble-lined mailers for the countless online deliveries are hardly recycled,” the groups observed.

The groups lamented that much of these packaging wastes are going straight to garbage bins, buried in landfills, incinerated in cement kilns, clogged in drainage canals and river systems, or dumped into the world’s oceans harming marine life.  

“As two of the top e-commerce sites in the country, we appeal to Lazada and Shopee to set a good example in preventing and reducing the generation of packaging waste, particularly by diminishing plastic use, from online retail transactions,” the groups said.

The groups presented the following six-point recommendations to the online shopping giants and others to cut down on their plastic use and packaging waste:
  1. make public their plastic footprint (i.e., types and quantities of plastic packaging materials used annually);
  2. adopt a plastic packaging waste prevention and reduction policy, including plastic-free packaging choice at checkout, returning used packages with reverse logistics and other schemes, and incentives for reduced packaging;
  3. transition to ecological and safe options for delivering goods, including appropriate product packaging, to reduce disposable and unnecessary plastic and packaging waste;
  4. implement time-targeted and measurable phase-out plans for plastic packaging materials; 
  5. communicate such phase-out plans to manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers; and to
  6. create a merchants' section for those who sustainably package their products.
The groups likewise urged e-commerce sites to offer, partner with, and provide incentives to developers, makers, distributors, dealers and customers of ecological alternatives to single-use plastic bags, sachets, cups, cutlery, beverage and water bottles, straws and even diapers, panty liners and sanitary pads.

Aside from providing customers with a plastic-free shopping experience, the groups further urged online shopping platforms to purge their sites of products that pose health and safety risks such as non-compliant toys and childcare articles, contraband cosmetics containing lead, mercury and other contaminants, banned mercury-containing medical devices, proscribed or recalled products, etc.

Among the groups from the National Capital Region that endorsed the said open letter were the 350.org, Action on Smoking and Health, Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice, Agimat: Sining at Kulturang Pinoy, Agos Media, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Ang Gawad Pinoy Consumer‘s Cooperative, Ang Nars, Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, Ateneo Environmental Science Society, BAI Indigenous Women's Network, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Ban Toxics, Break Free From Plastic, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-NCRR, Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish,  Center for Energy Ecology and Development, Center for Environmental Concerns, Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, Concerned Citizens Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Consumer Rights to Safe Food, Dahon AX, DLSU Campus Sustainability Office, DLSU Center for Social Concern and Action, Earth Island Institute Asia Pacific, Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement, Ecological Society of the Philippines, Ecology Ministry of San Roque de Manila Parish, EcoWaste Coalition, Environmental Advocates Reaching Towards Humanity-UST, Fellowship for the Care of Creation Association, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, Franciscan Solidarity Movement for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation,  Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Global Catholic Climate Movement-Pilipinas, Global Youth Biodiversity Network,  Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Greenpeace Philippines, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia, Ibon Foundation, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights), Living Laudato Si Philippines, Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute, Mother Earth Foundation, Musika Publiko, NASSA Caritas Philippines, Nagkakaisang Mangangalakal sa Longos, Malabon City, Oceana Philippines, Order of Friars Minor - Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Partnership for Clean Air, Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., Piglas Kababaihan, PUP Green Scholars Association, ROTCHNA- Kapatiran Komunidad People‘s Coalition, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sarilaya, Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Smokey Mountain Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong, Tondo, Manila, Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa San Vicente Ferrer Camarin, Caloocan City, Samahan ng mga Wastepicker ng Smokey Mountain,  Save Philippine Seas, Volunteer Probation Assistants Association of Quezon City I, WomanHealth, World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, and the Zero Waste Philippines. 

Also endorsing the letter were groups from Northern and Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Mimaropa regions, including Zero Waste Baguio in Benguet, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society in Bulacan,  Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals-Gapan, Health Advocacy of Nueva Ecija, Koalisyon ng Mamamayan ng Nueva Ecija, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Mother Butler Mission Guilds-Gapan, Novo Ecijano for Peace and Development, and People‘s Initiative for the Environment in Nueva Ecija, Zambales Lingap Kalikasan in Zambales, Cavite Green Coalition, City Environment and Natural Resources Office of Trece Martires City, De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, De La Salle University-Dasmariñas High School, Green Stage Filipinas Maskara, La Sallian Community Development Center, Ministri ng Kalikasan-Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Dasmariñas, Office of DLSU-Dasmariñas  Vice-Chancellor for Academics and Research, Office of DLSU-Dasmariñas  Vice-Chancellor for Mission, External Affairs and Advancement in Cavite, Buklod Tao Katatagan in Rizal, Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance in Quezon, Environmental Legal Assistance Center  in Palawan, and the Bayay Sibuyanon and Sibuyanons against Mining in Romblon. 

In the Visayas, Cebu-based groups Basura Runners, Alliance of Brgy. Apas Community Associations, Cebu Farmers Market, Children's Paradise Montessori School, Communities for Alternative Food EcoSystems Initiative,  Ecobricks Philippines Movement, Gagmay'ng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK) Lihok Pagtinabangay Multipurpose Cooperative, Go Green Movement, Good Food Community,  Green Releaf Initiative,  Kaabag sa Sugbo Foundation (Secretariat), Kidslife Foundation, Legal Alternatives for Women Center, Inc., Let's Do It Philippines Movement, National Clean Up Day Coalition Philippines, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Philippine Marine Environment Protection Association, Pusyon Kinaiyahan, Sectoral Transparency Alliance of Natural Resource Governance, Seed4Com, St. Michael's Play Garden, Tañon Allied Fishers and Sea Product Vendors Association, Teachers' Dignity Coalition Visayas, Unifying Sectoral Responses on Environmental Protocols in Sibonga and Zero Waste Academy Philippines signed the letter, as well as the Plastic Free Bohol in Bohol, Kinaiyahan Inc., Marine Conservation Philippines, Tuburan for Rural Women Empowerment and Development Inc., War on Waste, Zero Waste Cities Project, and Zero Waste Youth in Negros Oriental, and the Diocesan Social Action Center of Maasin, Inc. in Southern Leyte.

From Mindanao, Davao-based groups also joined others in urging online shopping sites to reduce their plastic footprint.  Among those who signed were the ASEAN Abundance Innovation Lab, Bantay Bukid Farmers Association,  Bantayo Aweg, Ecoteneo - Ateneo de Davao University, EGIP Foundation, Inc., Family Planning of the Philippines Youth Core Group Davao, Go Organic Davao, Go Organic Mindanao, I Am Hampaslupa, Inc., Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying, Project Balod, Project DYESABEL, Project MariKnows, MASIA, Rotaract Club of Davao, SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development, STEP Philippines, Student Organization of Marine Engineering, Students' Environmental Alliance of Davao, Sustainable Davao Movement, TAMBAYAN Center for Children's Rights, Inc. and the United States Government Alumni Association-Davao.  

Also signing the letter were health experts Dr. Geminn Louis Apostol and Dr. Suzette Lazo, human rights advocates Carlito Gaspar and Judy Pasimio, restaurateur Annie Guerrero, educators Dean Tony La Viña, Assoc. Prof. Marlon Pareja and Assoc. Prof. Victoria Segovia, religious leaders Bp. Broderick Pabillo and Fr. Robert Reyes.