Amazon, Flipkart echo PM's campaign against single-use plastic

The statement from the Indian PM on 9 September was crystal clear. "My Government has announced that India will put an end to single use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single use plastic." 48 hours later the Prime Minister Narendra Modi met women in Mathura who pick plastic from garbage and extended a helping hand to them. He launched a campaign against single-use plastic products.

14 Sep 2019 | By Aultrin Vijay

Since then, packaging industry players have been talking about how reduction is far more important than recycling. Plus how a fundamental shift away from all single-use packaging, plastic or otherwise, is imperative.

Movie stars Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Katrina Kaif requested their fans to shun single-use plastic. Likewise Varun Dhawan said, "Being a plastic-free nation is the need of the hour and great intiative taken by our prime minister and we can all do this by making small changes. The movie sets of the film Coolie No 1 will now only use steel bottles." In this sense, the move by Flipkart and Amazon makes sense. Today, plastics account for 80% of marine litter, often affecting marine wildlife.

Flipkart, India’s leading e-commerce marketplace, today announced that as of August 1, 2019, it has achieved a 25% reduction in single-use plastic through various initiatives across its packaging value chain. Flipkart also made a commitment to eliminate single-use plastic in packaging and move towards a 100% recycled plastic consumption in its own supply chain by March 2021.

As part of its long-term sustainability initiatives, Flipkart 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. Under this commitment, Flipkart has also filed for EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and is targeting 30% collection back in the first year to begin with. Flipkart also committed to maximise recycled content in single-use plastic to boost the recycling ecosystem and reduce virgin plastic consumption. These initiatives acknowledge India’s vision to phase out single-use plastic, as well as the company’s impact on the environment.

Simple ways to reduce your single use plastic:

  •     Carry your own water bottle
  •     Refuse plastic straws
  •     Use containers and bottles, glassware  for your tea / coffee and other beverages
  •     Refuse single-use plastic packaging and bags. Insist on cloth bags or recycled paper bags for packaging
  •     Marriott chain of hotels is no longer using single-use shampoo bottles across its brands. This will eliminate 1.7m pounds of plastic each year. That's how a #Trailblazershapes a sustainable future.
  •     Don't litter. Create collection centres in your community

Meanwhile Amazon India announced its commitment to eliminate single use plastic from its packaging by June 2020. A significant step towards this change is the introduction of ‘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. This environment friendly and fully recyclable packaging solution has already been launched in select fulfilment centers (FC) and will be extended across all FCs of Amazon in the country by the end of the year.

The company has ensured that its packaging material in the form of corrugate boxes and paper cushions contains as high as 100% recycled content and is also fully recyclable. The plastic currently used in packaging mailers and bubble bags is made of 20% recycled content, and is also recyclable. Amazon India is aggressively developing plastic free alternatives for packaging mailers, bubble bags, stretch wrap and tape used in the packaging which will help the company eliminate all forms of plastic used in its packaging.

Both companies are committed to collection and recycling of plastic packaging material. The company has pledged to collect plastic, equivalent to all of the plastic packaging material used.

Amazon and Flipkart - at a glance
All plastic dunnage across the Amazon fulfilment centres in India will be replaced with paper cushions by end of the year. Furthermore 60% of the Amazon Pantry orders are now delivered in totes which has enabled the removal of secondary packaging. In addition, packaging free shipment (PFS) have been expanded to 13 cities within a year. The company has partnered with brands to develop e-commerce friendly packaging.

Flipkart has been working with its partners on long-term sustainability initiatives. Since the beginning of this year, Flipkart has been working on deploying sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic for its packaging and has received positive customer response on the successful implementation of greener alternatives like multi-use belts, recycled paper-based pouches, and carton waste shredded material. In phases, these have been replacing stretch film, polythene pouches, and plastic fillers such as bubble wrap and air-bags.