Across the globe, companies are planning to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease the use of single use plastic. Earlier, Flipkart had announced eliminating single use plastics in packaging and moving towards using 100% recycled plastic in its supply chain by March 2021. The company has already reduced their new plastic consumption by 50% through different initiatives.
One of the latest initiatives of Flipkart is to use eco-friendly recycled paper bags to replace poly pouches for packaging. Since May 2020 in Maharashtra, the company is doing a pilot of these paper based packaging and plans to do the same in other cities as well, said Mahesh Pratap Singh, Head of Sustainability.
To provide cushion to goods during transit, the e-tailer has replaced bubble wraps and airbags with carton waste shredded material and as an alternative to plastic-based packaging within the boxes to protect the goods from getting damaged, they are also using a two-ply paper roll.
Singh feels that 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 and 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 also said that 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.
Flipkart is aiming to collect 30% of its plastic waste this year and is working with other stakeholders to create an ecosystem for extended producer responsibility where plastic waste can be recycled after collecting it back from consumers. The company will engage with different sellers who ship orders directly to consumers, once the processes are streamlined.
For delivery shipments, the e-tailer has deployed a range of electric two and three wheelers. While e-electric vehicles are made mostly for consumer use, they have customised them to be suitable for product delivery, said Singh.
The company is also looking at maximising the recycled content in single-use plastic and projects to boost the recycling ecosystem.