Home Retail ‘Bag’ging to go green from the retail store (Part II)

    ‘Bag’ging to go green from the retail store (Part II)


    Yesterday, Indiaretailing spoke to some retailers about the ‘violation of an essential part of the society’s environmental code through using non-degradable carrybags’.
    Some majors in the business agreed that while the bags that they are using are not environment-friendly, they cannot yet avoid the use of polythene bags as there are no convenient alternatives.

    Retailers also appreciated Indiaretailing’s idea of association with NGOs who make paper bags out of waste material, citing it as an ‘add on’ to their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Indiaretailing, thus, went a step ahead to locate the ones who can associate with retailers and help in meeting their CSR objectives and business needs by providing economical alternatives to polythene bags.

    Jan Sandesh, a charitable organisation that employs needy women to manufacture paper bags, says that it has the potential to meet the needs of corporate retailers who seek an economical alternative to polythene bags. Sakar International, manufacturer and exporter of handmade paper bags, also provides eco-friendly alternatives to polythene bags.

    The potential ones:

    Speaking to Indiaretailing, Shanti Paswan, joint secretary of Jan Sandesh, said: “Till date, none of the corporate retail giants from India has approached us. On the other hand, a UK-based jewellery retailer is our regular buyer. In India, a major export house takes our bags to meet demands of his foreign buyers. People Tree is the only Indian corporate retailer in our list. They have been sourcing our bags from day one of our operations, and this has been a successful association – in sync with our social ideology and People Tree’s CSR.”

    Paswan informed that many traditional retailers have opted for their bags. “We move from market to market to sell our products. Some of the kiranawallas do show interest in the bags, but understandably, they cannot buy in bulk.”

    Jan Sandesh’s handmade bags made from waste material are priced at Rs 5 – Rs 22 per piece, and are costlier than polybags. However, if a retail company places the price factor in the larger context of the monetary value of what it spends on various CSR and branding activities, the price may seem to be a non-factor considering that it also boosts the company’s image and respectability. “The manufacturing cost of these bags is high as they are handmade and a lot of labour and time goes into their making. We also have to hand-paste the labels or logos of the companies for whom we manufacture. A lot of raw material is also expended in training the new, unskilled recruits,” informed Paswan.

    Jan Sandesh is a charitable organisation operating from a rented location in one of Delhi’s slum areas and provides training, jobs and income to needful women and adolescents. It earns not more than two to three rupees per bag, and lesser if selling in bulk.

    Citing alternatives for polythene bags, Vijay Kumar, business head, Sakar International, a company engaged in exporting handmade paper bags to international retailers, said: “Retailers should try and focus on using bags made of recyclable paper. These bags will cost lower than the handmade bags.” He further said that many international wholesalers and retailers have been sourcing decorative paper bags from the company, and are selling these in the overseas market.

    Asked whether the company will be able to provide retailers with alternatives for polythene bags, Kumar said, “We have not yet thought about the proposition as none of the country’s corporate retailers have approached us. If anyone approaches us, we will definitely think of joining hands with them.”

    – By Satrajit Sen