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Amazon, Flipkart Under NGT Scanner As Plastic Packaging Raises Green Concerns

Amazon, Flipkart Under NGT Scanner As Plastic Packaging Raises Green Concerns

The companies haven’t submitted complete documents to CPCB

CPCB said Amazon hasn’t submitted its documents about Plastic Waste Management Rules

Flipkart has reportedly not responded to CPCB’s correspondence of March 2020

Almost eight months after a Delhi teen filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Amazon and Flipkart for using excessive packaging materials, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said that the companies haven’t responded to its correspondence.  

A Financing Express report said that the companies haven’t submitted complete documents regarding the quantity of plastic consumption or have not responded to the communication of CPCB. It added that Amazon has not submitted complete documents regarding their responsibility under the Plastic Waste Management Rules and confirmation of the quantity of plastic consumption.

CPCB added that Amazon Retail India submitted the application for registration under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2018 to it on December 5, 2019, having Extended Producer Responsibility of collection and channelisation of 0.5 TPA plastic waste.

“The application is under process, however, complete documents regarding pan-India coverage of Plastic Waste Management and confirmation of quantity of plastic consumption have not been submitted by the firm so far,” CPCB said.

Flipkart has reportedly not responded to CPCB’s email dated March 4, 2020 and no other correspondence has been received from the company so far, CPCB told NGT. “However, vide letter dated December 6, 2019 Ms Instakart Services Pvt Ltd informed that Flipkart Pvt Ltd is their holding company registered in Singapore and Ms Instakart is engaged in the business of providing logistics and fulfilment services to group companies,” it added.

CPCB had earlier told the NGT that these ecommerce companies need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to the packaging of their products. 

It had informed the green panel that as per provisions 9(2) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, “Primary responsibility for collection of used multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners who introduce the products in the market. Amazon Retail India Private Limited and Flipkart Private limited are involved in packaging and selling of other companies’ products and thus introducing plastic packaging in the market. They need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under PWM Rules and should obtain registration as brand owner after submitting proper documents.” 

In October 2019, a petition was filed by sixteen-year-old Aditya Dubey alleged that the excessive use of single-use plastic packaging material has posed a serious challenge to the environment. 

In 2019,  the central government had pushed for a ban of all single-use plastic to protect the environment. The commerce and industry ministry had advised ecommerce companies to gradually slash single-use plastic in packaging of products. The ecommerce companies had been reportedly asked to discard plastic used in packaging, which accounts for more than 40% of non-fibre plastic.

The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had also urged the companies to develop sustainable packaging material to reduce India’s plastic footprint. At the time, both Flipkart and Amazon shared their initiatives and successes in banning single-use plastic.

Flipkart, in a media statement, said that the company is committed to eliminating single-use plastic in packaging by March 2021. The company believes that by eliminating plastic in their packaging will also “significantly” help in the preservation of the environment.

The homegrown company further added that as of August 1, 2019 it had already achieved a 25% reduction in the usage of single-use plastics through various initiatives across their packaging value chain.

Amazon, on the other hand, said that the company is working towards eliminating single-use plastic completely in India by June 2020. It also claimed that less than 7% of their packaging material consists of single-use plastic. The Seattle-based company goes on to add that it has introduced ‘paper cushions’, which will replace plastic dunnage across their fulfilment centres in India by the end of the year.

Update: June 16, 2020 | 21:10 PM

After the story was published, a Flipkart Group spokesperson, said, “At the Flipkart group, we have been proactively engaged with CPCB and are happy to share that we have already obtained EPR authorisation from CPCB in accordance with plastic waste management rules. We take a very proactive and holistic view of our responsibility towards the environment, which includes all aspects of sustainability and usage of natural resources. Flipkart has already reduced single use plastic in its operations by 50%.”