According to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report, about 32 per cent of 78 million tones of annual plastic packaging production is being dumped in our oceans. A New Delhi-based Energy and Resource Institute has estimated that around 43 per cent of plastic manufactured is used for packaging and most of it is single-use.
Recognising their role in plastic pollution, several firms have started to take measures in preventing and combating the same. They are adopting different methods to tackle their usage of single-use plastics.
Promoting the Use of Eco-Friendly Cutlery:
Westlife Development Ltd, a firm that operates 300 McDonald’s Corp store in the south and west India, has said that it has replaced all single-use consumer-facing plastic with eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives. Vistara has claimed that it is the first and only carrier to serve oxy-biodegradable cutlery and pouches to its economy class customers. It also said, it has replaced plastic casseroles with aluminium dishes in the economy and china casseroles in premium economy. Also, disposable bowls have been replaced with reusable ones.
Collection and Recycling of Waste
Thirty-two companies, including Coca Cola Inc, PepsiCo, Diageo and Reliance Industries have partnered to launch a packaging waste management venture and plan to mobilise more than Rs 1,000 crore for the project. Parle Agro has joined hands with Indian Pollution Control Association and NEPRA Environmental Solutions Pvt Ltd to collect and recycle 100 per cent of its PET bottle waste.
Taking on to a circular economy approach, Unilever has made a commitment to discard the take-make-dispose model and to make its packaging material 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Flipkart has said that it has achieved a 25 per cent fall in single-use plastics through various initiatives across its packaging value chain. It has also claimed to be working on long-term initiatives like the introduction of eco-friendly paper shreds, replacing bubble wraps and airbags with carton waste shredded material and two-ply roll, among others.
Amazon India has also announced its commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from its packaging by June 2020. The company plans to substitute plastic dunnage like air pillows and bubble wraps with paper cushions across all its fulfilment centres in India.
Eliminating Plastic Bottles and Straws
Air India has it will replace all 200 ml bottles with larger 1,500 ml water bottles in all its carriers, thus eliminating the smaller bottles altogether. Vistara has also agreed with eliminating 200 ml of water bottles.
Nestle and Café Coffee Day have started circulating the use of paper straws instead of plastic ones since 2019. Starbucks is looking to replace plastic straws with lightweight, strawless cold drink lids.
Plastic is a very useful material if used appropriately. However, indiscriminate use of it has led to this crisis which calls for such drastic measures. While these efforts are being appreciated by many and especially by the consumers of these brands, it will require a lot more effort from the corporates as well as the individuals to tackle plastic pollution effectively.