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Suning tests reusable delivery boxes

Posted on 19 June 2018.

This Chinese business giant, whose online sales platform is expanding rapidly, is testing reusable plastic boxes to replace the cardboard packaging currently used.

Suning’s idea is to reconcile e-commerce with protecting resources – by testing delivery in reusable boxes.

The explosion in online retail sales has resulted in a large increase in the volume of parcels sent - meaning tons of cardboard and paper packaging go straight in the trash as soon as the goods are unpacked. E-commerce companies have to tackle the challenge of developing more environmentally friendly packaging.

The Chinese trading giant Suning - whose e-commerce platform suning.com is growing exponentially (up an incredible 263% in 2017) – decided to test express deliveries for its products in reusable plastic boxes. Test day was 11 November 2017, known as "Singles Day" and one of the biggest online shopping days of the year in China.

This alternative to cardboard and paper has the dual merit of using recycled materials at the same time as reducing the use of paper and similar materials. A plastic box costs 25 yuan (3.26 euros) but can be reused up to 1,000 times.

Following the success of the "Singles Day" test, Suning will be gradually developing its initiative. The company, a major player in China's retail electronics and appliance sector, plans to use more than 200,000 of these durable boxes this year, mainly for the transportation of electronic products, children’s products or items that are particularly fragile.

A drop of water in the e-commerce ocean

In China's e-commerce sector alone, nearly 10 billion cardboard boxes, more than 8 billion plastic bags and some 17 billion meters of tape were used for packaging in 2015!

The fifth largest global e-retailer according to Deloitte, Suning has at least 500 million active users per month. If you convert this figure into packages using cardboard, paper and tape, the volume of materials being used is staggering! An experiment involving 200,000 reusable boxes might appear to be a drop in the ocean but the idea could well have a promising future. Not just in China but elsewhere too!