From Dabur India to Flipkart, companies try to wean off plastics

Companies across sectors appear to be working on preparing for the impending ban from this Wednesday on single-use plastic. Dabur India, ITC, and Flipkart are among those with time-bound initiatives to fully recycle the plastic used in their respective supply chains.


“Dabur India has set its sights on becoming a plastic waste-neutral company by the end of March 2021, by collecting, processing and recycling 20,000 tonnes (20 million kg) of post-consumer plastic waste from across the country,” said Shahrukh Khan, executive director (operations). “With this, the company would be collecting back 100 per cent of the plastic waste it generates through product packaging.”


According to the consumer goods entity, it has recycling initiatives in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab since 2018-19. It plans to expand these to 25 states and Union Territories in this financial year. Dabur is working, it says, with nearly 5,000 ragpickers till date to collect plastic waste, besides recycling PET waste to make T-shirts and other products that can used in internal events.


Beverages major Coca-Cola says it is building a ‘closed loop’ system for waste, whereby cartons, cans and bottles are recycled and repurposed multiple times. Launched in partnership with Indian Centre for Plastic in the Environment, this is operating in 14 cities, to reach 50 cities in 2023. Over 15,000 tonnes of waste was collected in 2018 as part of this. Coke says it has also embarked upon a mission to create awareness among children and teachers of government schools on reuse of plastic, under its ‘Support My School — Mission Recycling’ programme.


Nestlé India says it is working with RECITY and Mussoorie Nagar Palika Parishad for implementing an integrated plastic waste management system in Mussoorie. The aim is an end-to-end and sustainable one.

Walmart-owned e-commerce company Flipkart says it began on this well before and had achieved 25 per cent reduction in single-use plastics as of August 1. It says it is committed to eliminate this in packaging and move towards  100 per cent recycled plastics consumption in its own supply chain by March 2021. “We believe sustainable business practices not only help us preserve our environment but make us more efficient and ensure longevity,” says Kalyan Krishnamurthy, group chief executive. “Our long-term vision is to eliminate the use of plastic and maximise the use of recycled and renewable materials.”


Flipkart says it is also actively working to understand how to implement other initiatives to tackle plastic waste. In phase two, the company will extend this to thousands of seller premises for orders shipped directly by the latter. At its corporate office in Bengaluru, where it has 8,500 employees, the company does not use plastic cutlery — it encourages use of steel containers and bottles or glassware to serve tea and coffee.

Last week, Amazon India announced a  commitment to eliminate single-use plastic from its packaging by June 2020. The company says it is ensuring the packaging material for warehouses and fulfilment centres were supplied by manufacturers from nearby towns and villages, to reduce carbon footprint.


Online food delivery firms, one of the biggest consumers of single-use plastic, say they are trying to restrict usage. According to Swiggy, it has found viable alternatives, made available at restaurants as part of a ‘Swiggy Packaging Assist’ programme.


“The programme enables restaurant partners to get access to a variety of packing solutions, including eco-friendly packaging options made of materials such as paper and glass,” said a spokesperson. The company says several such partners across cities have slowly started using greener packaging solutions. It has also begun experimenting with a cutlery opt-out option for some restaurants on its platform.


Swiggy is also working with design consultants and makers of packaging material to come up with improved design and recyclability.


Apart from e-commerce, food tech and fast-moving consumer goods entities, hospitality chains have also started taking initiatives. ITC Hotels says it commenced the identifying of different kinds of plastics used at its hotel properties in Delhi, Goa and Jaipur, two months ago. After which, the chain has started eliminating single-use plastic across functions, including packaging, food and beverages. “We have taken a pledge to eliminate single-use plastic this calendar year,” said Dipak Haksar, chief executive. The chain claims to be one of the first to introduce glass waterbottles, in 2012.


A similar initiative to ban use of single-use plastic is on at some other five-star hotels — IHC, Marriott, and Accor Group, among others. It is estimated that large hotels consume close to two million PET bottles a year.

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