BENGALURU/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s India unit plans to replace single-use plastic in its packaging by June 2020, the company said on Wednesday, the latest move by an ecommerce giant to weed out plastic use from the country’s cities and towns that frequently rank among the world’s most polluted.
Last week, Walmart Inc’s local ecommerce unit Flipkart said it had cut down on similar kinds of plastic use by 25% and planned to move entirely to recycled plastic consumption in its own supply chain by March 2021.
The announcements come just weeks ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected move to announce plans scrapping the use of certain varieties of plastic by 2022.
Amazon India will roll out paper packing material across the country by the end of 2019, its vice president of customer fulfilment, Akhil Saxena, said on a call.
Amazon has often been criticised for using too much plastic and thermocol to wrap its billions of packages of shipments.
The company said it has been talking to the Indian government, but Wednesday’s move was “not a knee-jerk reaction,” Saxena said.
In a speech addressing the country on India’s Independence Day last month, Prime Minister Modi had urged people and government agencies to “take the first big step” on Oct. 2 towards freeing India of single-use plastic.
Many of India’s cities rank among the world’s most polluted, and waste generated from single-use plastics is a growing problem.
Earlier, state-run airline Air India said it was working on a plan to cut down on plastic usage, switching to paper tea cups and serving various snacks in cooking-paper pouches.
Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons Ltd and Singapore Airlines, replaced small water bottles with paper cups on some of its flights and said the airline plans to make the change on flights over all routes.
(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)