Amazon India said it has achieved a significant milestone in its efforts towards sustainability by eliminating all single-use plastic in packaging originating from its more than 50 fulfilment centres in the country. In September 2019 the e-commerce firm had pledged to meet this goal in an accelerated time frame by June 2020, in an effort to build an environmentally sustainable supply chain.
Amazon India has taken several steps to achieve complete elimination of single-use plastic in its own fulfilment network. The first milestone towards this goal was achieved in December 2019 when the company replaced plastic packaging material, such as bubble wraps and air pillows, with ‘paper cushion’ in its packaging. The firm then introduced 100 per cent plastic-free and biodegradable paper tape earlier this year, which is used to seal and secure customer shipments.
“This is an outcome of our customer obsession. We worked backwards from their feedback and made this happen,” said Prakash Kumar Dutta, director, customer fulfilment and supply chain, Amazon India, in an interview. “When navigating through the unprecedented challenges of lockdown and the pandemic in the last few months, it was not easy for our team to make this happen. We took a lot of efforts and made sure that the right steps are in place to ensure that we meet our commitment.”
Amazon has also replaced thin cling films for customer deliveries among other material with packaging options that are not single-use plastic in nature. All other plastic packaging material originating from the Amazon Fulfilment Centers is 100 per cent recyclable through available collection, segregation and recycling channels. Amazon said it continues to educate sellers, who directly fulfil customer orders, to join in this directional change in packaging.
Amazon India has carried out several pilots while developing innovative single-use plastic-free solutions, to gauge the in-transit strength of its packaging. The company has also collaborated with manufacturers to design sustainable packaging innovations to minimize waste in packaging. The pilots have enabled the company to make significant steps towards its sustainability goals without impacting the customer experience or product safety.
Earlier this month, the company said that it has expanded its India-first initiative, packaging-free shipping (PFS) to over 100 cities. Now more than 40 per cent of Amazon customer orders shipped from Amazon India’s fulfilment centres are either packaging-free or have significantly reduced packaging. The firm has also been collecting and recycling plastic waste equivalent to its usage at a national level from September 2019. It has identified collection agencies to help collect equivalent of 100 per cent plastic waste generated from usage across the Amazon fulfilment network.
“Technology plays an important role in Amazon to be able to deliver shipments in the manner they (customers) want,” said Dutta. “We're working on systems where fulfilment centres are able to consolidate a customer's orders and send them all in one package (thereby) reducing packaging yet again wherever possible.”