Low Cost Advisor

Dutch parcels yield 87 million kilos cardboard and plastic a year

Cardboard boxes, plastic bags and padding: Dutch packages provide 87 million kilos shipping material per year. The majority ends up in the garbage bin. The waste stream of parcels has not been mapped before.

Recycling Netwerk Benelux has researched these numbers for the first time. The organization did its own calculations and consulted statistics from Dutch market authority ACM and industry advocate Thuiswinkel.org. The numbers are about parcels for consumers. Business post, which comprises a quarter of all mail in the Netherlands, was not included.

84 million kilos cardboard boxes

Of the 87 million kilos of shipping material, a vast majority of 84 million consists of cardboard boxes. Another 2 million kilos go towards paper and plastic padding. A smaller 800 thousand kilos is used for plastic bags.

In addition to waste from packages, another 11 million kilos of paper and plastic enters the home through letters. Not surprisingly, this mostly includes paper envelopes, alongside 1,5 million kilos plastic shipping covers.

‘Most shipping material ends up in the bin’

With the continued growth of ecommerce, the package volume has increased for years. Corona-related lockdowns have only accelerated that growth. In 2020, Dutch parcel delivery increased over 30 percent. Meanwhile, letter post continues to decline.

With the growth of ecommerce, the parcel volume has increased for years.

Thus, the attention for parcel delivery is justified, according to Recycling Netwerk Benelux. ‘For its production raw materials are needed. During production, environmentally harmful substances are emitted. Moreover, most shipping materials, because they are meant for single use, end up in the bin.’ Therefore the organization for recycling in the Netherlands and Belgium advocates for government rules. A ban on unnecessary shipping packaging is named as an example.

Industry advocate: 10% reusable packaging in 2022

Dutch advocate for ecommerce Thuiswinkel aims to have 10 percent of packaging be reusable in 2022, as part of their industry sustainability plans. Half of cardboard boxes are currently shipping air, research by the organization concluded before.

80% of customers consider less plastic use important.

A recent inquiry by Thuiswinkel pointed out that 80 percent of Dutch customers considers less use of plastic by online stores important. Another 70 percent would prefer to receive less shipping material overall.

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