Online shopping has become a huge thing over the past decade however, the most unimaginable thing took place early in 2020.  A PANDEMIC! One that spread so fast that the world shut down. Streets were empty; no humans or vehicles, people were made to stay home, businesses were closed for months and all outdoor activities were banned. Coronavirus it was called. In the midst of chaos, the reduction of mobility brought some positive impact to the world, some would say. We had clearer skies, wildlife were captured roaming free, global carbon emissions reduced steeply and more. Unfortunately, it was all temporary. 

Panic in the supermarkets

With all businesses closed, people were forced to look at other options to get by the day to purchase basic necessities. At the beginning of the pandemic, people lived in fear and were panic buying, purchasing basic necessities in bulk. Grocery stores were running out of supplies. Restrictions made it harder for people to purchase items or products outside a 10km radius or products that were not deemed essential. 

Credit: Reddit user u/GladDrawing

Everything can find online lah!

With Covid-19, purchasing trends shifted drastically to online shopping with consumers desperate to stay afloat during the lockdowns. This led to an increased demand for single-use plastics made for packaging as the e-commerce industry boomed during the multiple lockdowns that took place around the world and Malaysia. 

Greenpeace’s Role

Over the past year, Greenpeace Malaysia has started to mobilize our team to start a campaign focused on plastic packaging waste caused by the e-commerce industry. Unfortunately, there is little to no reliable data that is available to the public in Malaysia. Based on Lazada and Shopee’s efforts and claims of commitment to promote sustainability over the past few years, we are curious whether they will go the extra mile to make real and impactful sustainable changes to their policies; long term programs that could make them the leaders of the e-commerce world. One that not only talks to the talk but walks the talk.

Our first action was to open communication lines with Lazada and Shopee Malaysia in hopes to critically engage them on possible solutions to promote plastic reduction, however, we had little to no success. We reached out to both Lazada and Shopee via email in May this year. Whilst Shopee ignored our multiple requests for a meeting, Lazada responded with minimal information and no interest for a follow up meeting even though they gave us assurance that we will reconvene in two weeks. As of November this year, that follow up meeting hasn’t taken place with no response to our follow up emails. 

A sea of plastic packaging collected by Greenpeace Malaysia staff

We have three demands: 

  • Reveal current estimates on packaging waste produced with all order fulfillments and whether there are long-term environmentally-sustainable policies in place
  • Reduce current numbers of packaging waste by introducing reduction targets 
  • Redesign the system by exploring sustainable methods of delivery and packaging such as returnable and reusable packaging and provide incentives to vendors / sellers for the reduction methods used 

None of which has been met due to the unwillingness to cooperate with Greenpeace Malaysia. Therefore, Greenpeace Malaysia has launched a petition demanding for Lazada and Shopee to prove alternative solutions and redesign the future of Malaysia’s e-commerce industry to ensure a just, green and equitable future for our nation. Giant E-commerce companies like Lazada and Shopee have a critical role to play in the plastic pollution crisis as they are responsible for enabling, facilitating and incentivizing millions of online sales every day and yet, very little is done to promote a system that is designed to reduce plastic waste.

Apa lagi kita mau?

To Lazada and Shopee Malaysia, we hope you can reply to the following questions sent to you on July 15th 2022 via email, as follows: 

  1. Do you have plans and targets to support plastic and packaging waste reduction in Malaysia?
  2. Do you have any data/report revealing the amount of packaging generated through online purchases and deliveries from your platform?
  3. Do you have any policies or incentives for your vendors or merchants to make efforts to reduce non-essential packaging for non-fragile goods?
  4. Do you offer any options (e.g. opt-out of packaging on the app) or incentives (e.g. waived/discounted shipping fees, discounts/promos, etc.) for consumers who demand less packaging with their purchase?
  5. Do you have any sustainable packaging solutions and eco-friendly delivery schemes (such as return and reuse systems)?

We hope to revisit this conversation as soon as possible.

To our supporters

For the Greenpeace family, we need you as supporters to keep pushing Lazada and Shopee to actively work on long term sustainable policies to make space for CHANGE. A change that is not a greenwashing tactic but a groundbreaking movement that will bring significant impact to our environment and the e-commerce industry. We need accountability, transparency and responsibility from these companies. Do not be mistaken though as we are not asking for a boycott however, we are asking for an effective plan to bring about important changes to the virtual world; one that will benefit both consumers and the environment. 

Sign the petition and be part of the movement. We need to ACT now. People Power is a powerful tool for change and it is important to understand that it is important for all of us to come together to fight for the same cause because without people power, change would be impossible. Share our petition, follow our social media and repost 

  • Terima Kasih, Xiexie ni, Nandri, Thank you.