On India’s 73rd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed on the immediate steps which should be taken to eradicate single-use plastic. He hinted towards a mass movement, along the lines of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, and is expected to announce strict measures on October 2 to curb plastic use.
PM Modi’s campaigns such as Make in India and the latest, Fit India have resonated with the public and businesses as well. So, as the country moves towards a campaign against the use of plastic, ecommerce players Amazon and Flipkart have taken up the onus to talk about their initiatives and their successes.
Flipkart: Aiming For 100% Recycled Plastic In Supply Chain By March 2021
Walmart-owned company Flipkart outlined its vision to eliminate single-use plastic claiming that as of August 1, 2019 it had achieved a 25% reduction in single-use plastic, through various initiatives across its packaging value chain. Flipkart said it is working on various initiatives including the introduction of eco-friendly paper shreds, replacing poly pouches with recycled paper bags, replacing bubble wraps and airbags with carton waste shredded material and 2 Ply roll to name a few.
The company said it has also filed for the EPR (Extended producer responsibility) and is targeting 30% collection back in the first year, to begin with. Flipkart also committed to maximise the Recycled content in single-use plastic to boost the recycling ecosystem and reduce virgin plastic consumption.
“Creating alternatives for single-use plastic packaging is one of the significant steps we have taken towards fulfiling our commitment to creating a sustainable ecosystem. Our long-term vision is to eliminate the use of plastic and maximise the use of recycled and renewable materials,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Group CEO, Flipkart.
The company is now looking to include ecommerce ready packaging from brands and recycled paper bags for packaging etc.
Amazon: Aims To Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Packaging By June 2020
With $5Bn commitment to India, Amazon said that it will eliminate single-use plastic from its packaging by June 2020. The company introduced paper cushions, which will replace plastic dunnage like air pillows and bubble wraps across its fulfilment centers in India.
Paper cushions will be used to fill the void space inside packages to ensure that the product is well protected in transit. The solution has already been launched in select fulfillment centers (FC) and will be extended across all FCs of Amazon in the country by the end of the year.
The company claims that its packaging material in the form of corrugated boxes and paper cushions contains as high as 100% recycled content and is also fully recyclable. The company has pledged to collect plastic, equivalent to all of the plastic packaging material used by the Amazon Fulfilment network in the country from September 2019.
Akhil Saxena, vice president, customer fulfillment, Amazon India, said, “We have been relentlessly working on reducing single-use plastic in our supply chain. Today, less than 7% of our packaging material consists of single-use plastic and we are working towards eliminating the usage of them completely in our buildings in India by June 2020.”
Increasing Concerns Around Plastic Use
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, if not recycled, plastic can take up to a thousand years to decompose. The plastic discarded at landfills slowly degenerates into small fragments and flow as carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals into groundwater.
Being light in weight, plastic floats on water bodies accumulates and clogs airways of marine animals. This not only endangers marine life but also put humans at the risk of ingesting harmful chemicals.
According to experts, 94% of plastics are recyclable. However, India recycles about 60% and the rest is dumped into landfills and in the sea and other water bodies. India lacks an organised system for the management of plastic waste, leading to widespread littering across its towns and cities.
The government’s call to ban single-use plastic is expected to include a ban on the use of plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets. This is further expected to clip 5% to 10% from India’s annual consumption of about 14 Mn tonnes of plastic.
Reports have suggested that the government will also ask ecommerce companies to cut down on plastic packaging that makes up nearly 40% of India’s annual plastic consumption. The authority is also reportedly thinking of ways to make ecommerce companies recycle the waste that they generate.
Environment secretary CK Mishra reportedly said, “They (ecommerce companies) are the ones creating all this waste, so the onus of recycling it has to be put on them as well. It’s all about the reduction of waste, and then they gradually need to move towards alternative packaging.”