Two of the largest competitors for the retail market – both physical and online, Amazon and Walmart, who are fighting out to gain dominance in the very large and fast growing retail market in India, are also in a race to eliminate the usage of single use plastic from all of their packaging as a soon as possible.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem in India. According to the estimates of the Indian government, about 70 per cent of all of the plastic that is consumed by users in the country are simply thrown away as here is very little infrastructure for processing of the plastic waste in most cities of the country.
All forms of non-recyclable plastic would be removed from its deliveries in India by June 2020, Amazon announced on Wednesday. The company plans to replace its “air pillows” and bubble wrap that it used for protecting the products with safety padding manufactured from paper.
According to Akhil Saxena, Amazon India’s vice president of customer fulfillment, Amazon already uses less than 7 per cent of single use plastic in all of the packaging material that the company uses. “This investment in protecting the environment ensures a triple win — it is good for our planet, good for our customers and community, and good for the business,” Saxena said in a statement.
And just about a week ago, Flipkart, the largest e-retailer of India and controlled and owned by Walmart, also made a similar announcement. A deadline of March 2021 to make all its packaging recyclable was announced by Flipkart and the company has said that last year, it had brought down the usage of single-use plastic in each package by 25 per cent.
Flipkart was bought by Walmart last year in a record deal for the largest physical retailer of the country.
In terms of leadership in the Indian e-commerce market, Flipkart holds a slender lead over Amazon. But the stakes are high for the two companies because the Indian e-commerce market is expected to be worth $200 billion by 2027 as estimated by Morgan Stanley. According to estimates from the research firm Forrester, the market share of each of the companies – Amazon and Walmart, is a little over 30 per cent. Investments to the tune of billions of dollars have been made in India by both the companies as they strive to get supremacy in a market which is expected to increase by about more than half a billion people who are expected to come online over the next few years.
A call for companies and individuals to reduce plastic pollution was given by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month while speaking on the occasion of Independence Day of India and urged that India should take “strong first steps” to completely remove use of single-use plastic by October 2.
“I urge the startup founders, technicians and industrialists to find ways to recycle plastic,” Modi added.
(Adapted from CNN.com)