World wrapped in plastic

In his Independence Day speech, PM Narendra Modi persuaded people and businesses alike to take the first step towards a plastic-free India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The restriction on single-use plastic will be effective from October 2, 2019. The ban will include the manufacturing, usage, and import of such items.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

Single-use plastic

Single-use plastic consists of disposable plastic that is only used once and then thrown away. These are petroleum-based products that are hard to recycle and being non-biodegradable, they release toxic chemicals. 

In India, where 70% of the plastic consumed is just discarded, single-use plastic is a major threat. Thus, the ban becomes crucial for the safety of the environment.

Plastic Consumption By E-Commerce Industries

I make use of the Amazon prime subscription even for my toothpaste. Indians like me seem to love ordering online, however, we do not ponder upon the amount of plastic used and thrown away during the packaging and parcelling process.

Amazon and other online sellers have been indiscriminately using thermocol, bubble-wrap, air-cushions, plastic-poly bubble bag, etc. The credit for 40% of India’s plastic consumption goes to e-commerce industries.

Excess use of packaging material by Amazon

Impact Of The Ban

On 29th August 2019, Flipkart announced that they have reduced their plastic consumption by 25%. 

An application filed under the Extended Producer Responsibility framework shows that they have a target of 30% plastic waste collection per year. They plan to go for 100% recyclable plastic by 2021.

Amazon and Flipkart E-Commerce Companies

Amazon India followed the suit by declaring their plan to discard single-use plastic packaging in India by June 2020. Their Vice President Akhil Saxena stated, “Investment in protecting the environment ensures a triple win- it is good for our planet, good for customers and community, and good for the business.”

This is essential in bringing down the figure of 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste that India generates annually. Hopefully, I won’t have to go through an avalanche of plastic with humongous carbon footprints to finally get the product I ordered.

Plastic waste eating away the environment

The Repackaging Challenge

Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said “Creating alternatives for single-use plastic packaging is one of the significant steps we have taken towards fulfilling our commitment to creating a sustainable ecosystem. Our long-term vision is to eliminate the use of plastic and maximize the use of recycled and renewable materials.”

The repackaging initiative will involve the usage of recyclable paper cushions and corrugated boxes.

Also Read: Waste Segregation Is The Way To Deal With Growing Menace Of Plastic

Development of Plastic-free alternatives for mailers and bubble wraps is on the horizon of all such initiatives. Amazon aims to have 50% of all shipments at zero net carbon by 2030 which is an ambitious target to achieve.

Recyclable Bubble-Wrap
Biodegradable packaging peanuts
Seaweed Packaging
Mushroom Packaging

Recycled bubble wraps, air-pillows, cardboard, paper form good substitutes. People have even come up with cornstarch, seaweed and mushroom packaging and biodegradable air peanuts as an alternative for Styrofoam which shows the enthusiasm of people for a greener earth. So, it’s not like the delivery system fails with plastic.

The Money Incentive

A survey conducted by LocalCircles found that out of 10,000 respondents, 92% of the customers were willing to return the packaging plastic including the cardboard boxes for a small cashback.

Cashback method

This is the same technique used by businesses to grow their user base. Indians do have a hard-on for discounts and cashbacks. I choose standard delivery just to get the small incentive of Rs. 20, so I believe this venture has a high probability in succeeding.

However, are these measures enough? According to Technopak (Management consultancy firm) Chairman Arvind K. Singhal, it will take an investment of around $25 billion for systematic waste collection, segregation, and management especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Reducing and recycling

As untrustworthy as I find these behemoth corporations, if they are kept in check then we have reason to be optimistic.

The government and people also need to make sure that these corporations fulfill their promises, after all, nobody likes empty talks.

Tell us your thoughts on the matter.

Image Sources: Google Images

Sources: Logical Indian, India Today, The Economic Times

Find The Blogger: @ishitabajpai6

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