Companies world over are looking at reducing their carbon footprint and decreasing the use of single use plastic.
Flipkart had earlier announced it would eliminate single use plastic in packaging. The idea was to move towards using 100% recycled plastic in its supply chain by March 2021.
The firm has already reduced its new plastic consumption by 50% through different initiatives.
In line with its sustainability roadmap, one of its latest initiative is to use eco-friendly recycled paper bags to replace the poly pouches for packaging of products. Since May 2020, it is doing a pilot of these paper based packaging in Maharashtra and plans to scale it up to other cities, says Mahesh Pratap Singh, head of sustainability at Flipkart.
The e-tailer has also replaced bubble wraps and airbags with carton waste shredded material to provide cushion to goods during transit.
They are also using a two-ply paper roll as an alternative to plastic-based packaging within the boxes to protect the goods from getting damaged.
"In India, while there are a lot of opportunities for sustainable solutions there are no plug and play products which is the norm in the developed world," says Singh . He adds, that is why they have their own in-house material design and research team that is a part of their part of supply chain operations.
Singh says, the shortlisting process for sustainable solutions is very long as they have to meet a wide array of criteria before being shortlisted. The solution has to be scalable to meet the high demand for daily orders. It has to be durable as packages often travel hundreds of kilometers in sun and rain so resilience and sturdiness is important. Third important piece is availability of solutions that can work in urban and rural India alike.
To make it holistic, Flipkart is working with different stakeholders to create an ecosystem for extended producer responsibility where plastic waste can be recycled after collecting it back from consumers. It is aiming to collect 30% of its plastic waste this year. Once the processes are streamlined, the e-tailer will engage with different sellers who ship orders directly to consumers.
Another area where it is working to reduce its carbon footprint is by leveraging electric vehicles. They have deployed a range of electric two and three wheelers for delivery of shipments. Singh says that while e-electric vehicles are made mostly for consumer use, they have customised them to be suitable for product delivery.
In works are initiatives to maximise the recycled content in single-use plastic and projects to boost the recycling ecosystem.
Last year, commerce and industry ministry had asked e-commerce firms to eliminate single use plastic and work on using sustainable materials for packaging products.
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