Bol.com introduces plastic packaging and claims environmental benefit

Amsterdam, 29 April 2019  – In a press release on their website, Bol.com announced changes in its packaging policies. The large, Dutch, online retailer’s most important change is the decision to decrease the use of their signature blue and white cardboard boxes. Bol.com claims that avoiding double packaging (products that were already packed and then double-packed in Bol.com blue & white boxes) will save 3.5 million boxes this year alone. About 20% of the CO2 emission of this company is produced by the packing materials and their aim is to be a zero-emission online store in 2025. This leaves one question: what are they doing with plastic?    

Bol.com also introduces a plastic shipping bag, made of recycled materials to replace some of the cardboard boxes in future. This will no doubt lead to increased use of plastic. At the beginning of the year, Bol.com did not sign the Plastic Pact in which companies and organisations committed to decreasing their plastic use with 20% in 2025. Is this commitment the reason why Bol.com did not sign the pact? The online retailer wants to decrease its ecological footprint and equates that to CO2 reduction. However, it ignores the impact of single-use packages on the environment.  

Implementing a reusable system would show real ambition 

Less packaging is better. Less packaging, plastic, cardboard and stuffing materials mean less waste, which is clearly better for the environment. Replacing cardboard with plastic can reduce CO2 emissions but does not take other aspects of plastic use, such as the disposal of plastic, into account. Plastic Soup Foundation does not agree with replacing cardboard by plastic. Instead of introducing plastic shipping bags, Bol.com should keep using the cardboard boxes. However, if the choice for plastic is already made then, the containers should be part of a reusable system, so containers can be returned to the company to be re-used. This would comply with the new SUP directive of the European Commission, which states that single-use plastic (SUP) should be reduced; producers should take responsibility for their plastic packaging, even after use. And an infrastructure should be in place to stimulate reusing plastic packing materials. Bol.com is making changes but as far as plastic is concerned, in the wrong direction. 

Photo: www.businessinsider.nl