India’s Biggest Online Retailer Will Stop Using Throwaway Plastic Packaging

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India’s biggest online retailer is giving itself less than two years to stop using single-use plastic when shipping its products.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer of Flipkart, speaks during an event to launch the E-commerce platforms initiative "Samarth" to support handicraft communities with access to the national market in New Delhi on July 31, 2019. (Credit: MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer of Flipkart, speaks during an event to launch the E-commerce platforms initiative “Samarth” to support handicraft communities with access to the national market in New Delhi on July 31, 2019. (Credit: MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce company owned by Walmart, said Thursday it would eliminate single-use plastic in packaging by March 2021. It also committed to “move towards 100% recycled plastic consumption” in its supply chain by the same date.

The company will, among other things, replace plastic bags with paper bags and bubble wrap with shredded material from cartons.

Flipkart, which is based in Bangalore, has already reduced the amount of single-use plastic in each of its packages by 25% over the last year, it said.

“At Flipkart, we believe that sustainable business practices not only help us preserve our environment, but make us more efficient and ensure longevity,” CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said in a statement.

The company also announced in June that it will make 40% of its delivery vehicles electric by March 2020.

Flipkart holds a slender lead over Amazon at the top of India’s e-commerce market, which Morgan Stanley predicts will be worth $200 billion by 2027. Both companies have invested billions of dollars to grow their business in the country, as they battle to reach more than half a billion Indians set to come online over the next few years.

Amazon touted its commitment to sustainability last week, boasting that its new office building in Hyderabad — the largest of its buildings anywhere in the world — is surrounded by more than 300 trees and has an 850,000-liter (225,000 gallon) water recycling plant.

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