Amazon eliminates single-use plastic in packaging in India

Amazon said on Monday it has eliminated all single-use plastic in its packaging across its fulfillment centers in India, delivering on a pledge it made last year to achieve this goal by June.

The American e-commerce group said it had replaced packaging materials such as bubble wrap with paper cushions and was also using “100% plastic-free biodegradable” paper tapes. All of Amazon’s 50-plus fulfillment centers in India, one of its key overseas markets, are complying with the new guidelines, the company said.

Flipkart, which had made a similar pledge last year, said last month that its reliance on single-use plastic across its supply chain had dropped by 50%. Last year, the Walmart-owned marketplace said it intended to move entirely to recycled plastic consumption in its supply chain by March 2021.

Amazon’s announcement Monday follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive last year, when he urged Indians to put an end to usage of single-use plastic by 2022.

India has been grappling with a major plastic waste problem for several years. Asia’s third-largest economy is struggling with disposing of the 9.4 million tons of plastic waste it generates each year.

Dozens of nations across the world have in recent years moved to address this challenge by imposing curbs and levies on use of single-use plastic.

Amazon said today that it still uses some plastic in packaging material, but those are 100% recyclable through available collection, segregation and recycling channels. The company said it is continuing to educate sellers who fulfill customer orders to join in this nationwide change in packaging.

“Our aim is to minimize environmental impact while elevating customer experience. While navigating through unprecedented challenges with the lockdown and pandemic in the last few months, we have continued to take progressive steps towards ensuring that we meet our commitment,” said Prakash Kumar Dutta, director of Customer Fulfillment & Supply Chain at Amazon India, in a statement.

Earlier this month, Amazon expanded Packaging-Free Shipping (PFS), an India-first initiative that sees fulfillment centers either deliver products that are completely packaging-free or have significantly reduced packaging, to more than 100 cities in India. The company said more than 40% of its orders in India today are already using PFS.

Additionally, Amazon said it is collecting and recycling plastic waste equivalent to its usage at a national level from September 2019, and has identified collection agencies to help collect equivalent 100% plastic waste generated from usage across the Amazon fulfillment network.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced it was launching a $2 billion internal venture-capital fund focused on technology investments to reduce the impact of climate change. The new fund, called The Climate Pledge Fund, will invest in firms across a number of industries, including transportation, energy generation and manufacturing. Through the program, the companies aim to reach a goal of “net zero” carbon emissions by 2040.