How E-tailers Can Work Towards Building a Better Circular Economy Involving Plastics

Greater participation by private stakeholders and other members of the value chain is crucial to building a holistic, circular plastic ecosystem to reduce plastic leakage
How E-tailers Can Work Towards Building a Better Circular Economy Involving Plastics

Despite the increased awareness of sustainability among people in general, much of the plastic is still falling out of the “recycling chain”. The e-commerce industry which is heavily dependent on plastic packaging in its supply chain has a huge potential to raise sustainability standards by many points. 

In fact, greater participation by private stakeholders and other members of the value chain is crucial to building a holistic, circular plastic ecosystem to reduce plastic leakage into nature, according to a case study developed in collaboration with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature India) India and India’s top e-commerce firm Flipkart. 

Mahesh Pratap Singh, Head of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, Flipkart said, “As a homegrown e-commerce organisation, the Flipkart Group is committed to building a sustainable business while playing the role of a catalyst in the creation of a thriving sustainable ecosystem. We are excited to have achieved a milestone of eliminating 100 percent single-use plastic packaging in our supply chain in a short span of time and look to aggressively work towards pushing the goal for our sellers and brand partners. We’ve also committed to sourcing from environmentally sustainable sources by working with various partners and becoming a proactive force for a better good."

Flipkart shared that its approach towards Sustainable Packaging relies on four pillars: Engage, Innovation, Capacity Building and Compliance. 

Flipkart

Reportedly, Flipkart Group companies, including e-commerce marketplace Flipkart and leading fashion destination Myntra have eliminated 100 percent single-use plastic packaging in their own supply chain by working with several stakeholders across traceability, plastic reduction and brands and universities to name a few. It is also working towards adopting circularity in its plastics value chain in collaboration with sellers and brand partners.

E-commerce ecosystem can rely on this model and build their organization that aids in fulfilling the sustainability targets. 

Varun Aggarwal, Associate Director - Sustainable Business at WWF India said, “A coordinated approach between e-commerce companies and all the other stakeholders in the plastics value chain is crucial to attaining a circular economy for plastics , Flipkart has a large secondary packaging footprint, making plastic waste management a key lever in its commitment to sustainability. The best practices adopted by Flipkart can be replicated by players in the same space to contribute to the mitigation of plastic waste”.

The study further mentions that companies need to customize interventions to influence consumer behavior and collaborate for improving and innovating the existing collection and recovery infrastructure and grow it further. Market leaders need to set up goals for their supply chain who wish to similarly engage and bring about a better plastics waste response to ultimately contribute towards a circular plastics economy and greater good of the society.
 
Through this case study, WWF has highlighted the need for active participation by the private stakeholders to ensure a holistic, circular plastic ecosystem to reduce plastic leakage into nature. As a leading digital platform engaging in online commerce of goods and services, Flipkart has a large secondary packaging footprint, making plastic waste management a key lever in its commitment to sustainability.
 
Some of the next steps identified include data-based goal setting to ensure a data-driven approach to waste management and regularly track the impact of alternatives, creating an ecosystem view of the entire waste management journey for packaging. It also includes creating a state-by-state playbook for training and working with sellers partners across different states to optimally implement the transition to sustainable packaging solutions. The best practices adopted by Flipkart can be replicated by other players in the same space for greater uptake to contribute to the mitigation of plastic waste and move towards a more circular system in e-commerce packaging.  

READ MORE: More Than 50 pc Consumers Globally are More Likely to Purchase Products with Sustainability Claims

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