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Amazon and Walmart pledge to curb single-use plastic packaging, but only in India

Amazon and Walmart pledge to curb single-use plastic packaging, but only in India
[Photo: Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever/U.S. Air Force]

When a package from Amazon arrives at your doorstep, it’s hard not to be a little shocked by the amount of packaging involved in getting those extra-strength Odor Eaters and Doritos Jacked to your front door. While not having to face the store clerk with your purchases is important, as the world becomes increasingly aware of the plastic waste filling up our oceans, soil, mountains, rivers, and the very air we breathe, it’s hard to justify the carbon footprint of an Amazon shipment.

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Now, Amazon and Walmart are doing something about the amount of single-use packaging in their shipments—in one country, anyway, which is a start.

Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart, which are two of the largest e-commerce businesses in India, have pledged to curb the amount of single-use plastic in their packaging in India.

Last week, Flipkart, which Walmart purchased last year, announced that it had managed to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in each package by 25% in the past year by replacing plastic with paper. It also set itself a deadline of March 2021 to make all its packaging recyclable. Earlier, the company had announced that it would make 40% of its delivery vehicles electric by March 2020.

Not to be outdone by its competitor, Amazon India announced on Wednesday that it, too, would replace all non-recyclable, single-use plastic in its packaging by June 2020, swapping those plastic air pillows and bubble wrap with padding made from paper. Not only does the online retailer aims to scrap single-use plastic packaging by June 2020, but it hopes to have 50% of all shipments at zero net carbon by 2030, the AFP reports.

The move comes after India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, called on companies and individuals to reduce plastic pollution, urging startups and industrial innovators to come up with new ways to recycle plastic, with the goal of eliminating single-use plastic. With no processing plants in most cities, India is facing a trash crisis as some 70% of the plastic consumed there is simply discarded, CNN reports. Modi vowed to ban single-use plastics at his Independence Day speech last month.

Hopefully, once Amazon and Walmart realize this change is feasible in India’s growing multibillion-dollar e-commerce market, they will bring the change to their U.S. business, too. It’s a change the planet needs and their customers really want.

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