The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in Taiwan has announced new regulations for online retailers regarding their packaging materials.

Starting 1 July, online retailers will be prohibited from using polyvinylchloride (PVC) in their packaging and will be required to incorporate recycled materials instead, according to the EPA.

No PVC plastic allowed, emphasis on recycled and reusable materials

Under the new rules, online retailers will no longer be allowed to use PVC plastic in their packaging. Instead, they should prioritise using wrappers made from at least 90% recycled paper in natural colours or plastic packaging that contains more than 25% reusable plastic.

Different packaging limits for retailers of varying sizes

The regulations also specify the amount of packaging that can be used based on the size of the online retailer.

Retailers with a paid-in capital exceeding T$50m ($1.61m) will need to adhere to a packaging-to-product weight ratio of less than 40% for products weighing between 250g and 1kg.

For goods weighing between 1kg and less than 3kg, the ratio should be under 30%; for goods weighing over 3kg, it should be under 15%.

Reduction targets for packaging and reusability

Online retailers with at least T$150m ($4.8m) in paid-in capital will face reduction targets for packaging. They must achieve a 25% reduction in packaging by 2024, 30% by 2025 and 35% by 2026.

Additionally, by 2024, 2% of the packaging materials used in their products must be reusable. This ratio will increase to 8.5% by 2025 and 15% by 2026.

Non-compliance and fines

Retailers failing to meet the waste weight reduction requirements will be subject to fines ranging from T$30,000 ($966.6) to T$150,000 ($4,832.9). They will also be required to change their packaging materials promptly.

Wang Yueh-bin, executive director of the EPA Recycling Fund Management Board, emphasised that these rules do not apply to individuals who sell goods through online marketplaces.

Growing online retail sales and packaging waste

Statistics show that online retail sales of general goods in Taiwan rose from T$228.3bn ($7.36bn) in 2017 to T$430.3bn ($13.9bn)last year. This surge in sales resulted in an estimated 220 million bags and boxes being used, generating approximately 50,000 metric tons of packaging waste.

The new regulations aim to address the environmental impact of packaging waste generated by Taiwan’s booming online retail industry.

By mandating the use of recycled materials and promoting reusability, the EPA hopes to reduce plastic consumption and encourage sustainable packaging practices among online retailers.