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Branded Waste – How CSR can help increase sales

plastic waste

Five states in India banned single-use plastic viz. Plastic bags, in the last one year and there was a huge uproar about the same but no one gave a moments notice to the massive amounts of plastic waste generated by corporations in India.

GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) conducted a survey in 2018 wherein ten GAIA member organizations and partners conducted clean-up and waste and brand audits in 18 states in India. Of the total waste collected, 46,100 pieces of plastic waste were branded, of which 47.5% were multilayer plastic packaging which can neither be recycled or composted.

The results were surprising but there is a clear pattern. The companies which get a lot of revenue from India are also its major polluters albeit indirectly.

Results showed that both local and international brands are responsible for plastic waste pollution in the country. PepsiCo India topped the multinational polluters list. Other multinational brands in the top 10 list of polluters are Perfetti van Melle, Hindustan Unilever, Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Ferrero SpA.

In the list of Indian polluters list, Amul, Britannia, ITC, Parle and Karnataka Milk Co-operative emerged as the top corporate polluters. Considering that these companies, national and international alike, milk the resources to earn their profit, it is their duty to protect its environment.

Froilan Grate, Regional Coordinator, GAIA Asia-Pacific says, “As the biggest producers of throwaway plastic packaging, brands carry the heaviest responsibility for the plastic problem,”. “Plastic packaging from brands is endangering wildlife and the health of the oceans, and poisoning the water we drink and the food we eat. But the current commitments on plastic reduction and package redesign means business as usual for at least the next decade. So far corporations have given us lip-service when what is needed is an urgent and drastic reduction.”

CSR can be used as a potent weapon to fight this plastic menace. The companies can use solutions like plastic bottle deposit scheme and involve the local community to encourage plastic recycling. Instead of using plastic bottles to sell mineral water, the companies can come up with mobile water ATM’s so that people can fill their reusable bottles at a cost. The right to clean water is indisputable and many of the companies in the above list are responsible for polluting our water resources. The companies need to understand that sustainability is not a one-time PR exercise but an ongoing initiative with a long-term plan and results.

If the companies need encouragement, then MediaCom’s research comes in handy. MediaCom’s research found that 49% of consumers are willing to pay more for a brand or product that supports a cause that is important to them. People have started caring about the environment. It is time the companies too start caring about the environment for their own benefit.

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The CSR Journal Team