Big Basket ahead of e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart in eliminating single use plastics

Big Basket ahead of e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart in eliminating single use plastics
BigBasket races ahead of global e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart to curb the consumption of single-use plastic in its packagingBCCL

  • E-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and BigBasket are racing to eliminate single use plastic from their packaging.
  • BigBasket is ahead of the curve as it replaced plastic packaging with paper bags completely three years ago.
  • Amazon India plans eliminate single use plastic by June 2020 and Flipkart is aiming for March 2021.
Global e-commerce giants, Amazon and Flipkart, aim to phase out single-use plastics from their packaging over the next two years. But, homegrown online grocery delivery platform BigBasket has been frugal in its use of plastic since its launched in 2011.

"To a large extent we have reduced plastic to a large extent right from before. It’s not recent," Pooja Ravishankar, head of category marketing at BigBasket told Business Insider.

For the past three to four years, BigBasket has stopped using plastic entirely to deliver fruits and vegetables to its customers. "All our fruits and vegetables come in a paper bag," said Ravishankar.

Amazon India, on the other hand, plans to eliminate all plastic packaging and replace it with paper cushions by June 2020.

Walmart-owned Flipkart’s plan is to use 100% recycled plastic in their supply chain by March 2021. The company claims that it has been able to reduce its single use plastic consumption by 25% as on 1 August, 2019.

Flipkart stated that it plans to replace poly pouches with recycled paper bags and bubble wrap with carton waste shredded material.

Challenges of making the transition from plastic to paper

When BigBasket made the switch from plastic bags to paper bags for their fruits and vegetables, their primary concern was that they might lose customers as a result.

"We were very worried because plastic gives you that transparency and vegetables look a lot nicer in plastic. Paper is opaque, and customers can’t see them. It’s a very touch-and-feel category," said Ravishankar.

Despite the apprehension, BigBasket did not lose customers. They went ahead and switched other grocery categories to paper packaging as well and their bills are printed on recycled paper.

"We want to reduce the packaging on fruits and vegetables as well. At the end of the day, paper packaging means trees are being cut down. Eventually we would want to move onto the thela (cloth bag) system," explained Ravishankar.

Eliminating packaging altogether

But, there’s still one challenge that remains — staples. Due to their weight and quantities, BigBasket still has to use plastic to deliver things like atta (flour) and dal (pulses). The company is mulling over shifting to recycle plastic to solve the conundrum

"One of the dreams that we have is that we want to get rid of packaging completely. It’s a vision for us," stated Ravishankar.

India has plans to implement a country-wide ban on single use plastic on with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to announce new guidelines today, 2 October 2019.

During India’s 73rd Independence Day, Modi emphasised immediate measures that could put in place to eradicate non-recyclable plastic.

See also:
Flipkart and Air India become the first in their sectors to begin the fight against plastic