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Amazon, Flipkart and BigBasket are leaders in reducing single-use plastic usage

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Amazon leads the e-commerce companies pack with Flipkart close at its heels followed by BigBasket according to an Empower India report

Bengaluru: E-commerce platforms Amazon, Flipkart and BigBasket are at the forefront of reducing single-use plastic in e-commerce, according to a research report by Empower India, a digital solutions provider.

Amazon leads the pack with Flipkart close at its heels, followed by BigBasket. While Amazon saved 97,222 metric tonnes of single-use plastic in 2021, Flipkart came a close second by eliminating all single-use plastic packaging at its Indian fulfilment centres, and BigBasket is piloting a project to eliminate packaging from fruit and vegetable deliveries across India by 2023.

According to experts, 94% of plastics are recyclable whereas India only recycles about 60% and the rest is discarded into landfills and water bodies. As a result, sustainability in packaging is becoming increasingly crucial.

According to data online, Amazon is making steady progress in delivering products safely while continuing to reduce packaging and increase recyclability. The company has eliminated 100% single-use, thin-film plastic packaging originating from its India fulfilment network since 2020 and introduced packing paper and paper cushions in its fulfilment network to replace plastic air pillows and bubble wraps.

Paper cushions are used to fill the void space inside packages to ensure that the product is well protected in transit. In 2020, Amazon also introduced 100% biodegradable paper tape to seal and secure outbound customer shipments.

Flipkart introduced scalable sustainable alternatives such as eco-friendly paper shreds, replacing poly pouches with recycled paper bags, and replacing bubble wraps with carton waste shredded material and 2-ply rolls to name a few.

Amazon uses machine learning algorithms to determine the suitability of flexible packaging, resulting in packaging that is up to 90% lighter than similar-sized boxes. These algorithms have reduced the use of corrugated boxes by over 35% in North America and Europe in the past five years. Flipkart’s smart packaging approach also focuses on right sizing and minimizing packaging waste.

“While there is debate about how e-commerce is impacting the livelihood of retail sellers, it is very encouraging that e-commerce companies are reducing plastic waste through its best practices,” said K. Giri, secretary general, of Empower India.

“I am impressed by the impact that these companies have had on small MSME who manufacture packaging materials. However, for the retail sector to help achieve a collective vision of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 then there is a need to encourage MSMEs to adopt more technology-driven solutions,” he added.

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