Companies working to reduce single-use plastics

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Despite the numerous bans on single-use plastics, most of us don't seem to realize the depth of the detrimental impact. Thankfully, there are some companies that have incorporated eliminating single-use plastics into their mission and are making a minute difference to the environment.

 

Single-use plastics are bad. Everyone knows this. Despite country-wide bans across the world and enough awareness around the harmful impact on marine life, animals on land and finally to human beings, most of us don’t seem to realise the depth of the detrimental impact.


Globally, at least 8 to 12 million tonnes of plastic are believed to be seeping into the oceans and other marine environments, causing immense harm to marine life and ecosystems. The negative aspect here is that these plastics are not biodegradable, making them last for centuries, posing health risks for animals, humans and ecosystems.


Single use plastics are detrimental to marine life (Representation image / Image credit: Global village space)


Thus, it is the time and responsibility for leading companies and organizations across the globe, to make innovations on their part.


How can companies reduce single-use plastics?

Many leading global companies have already incorporated plastic reduction plans, to attain positive environmental impacts. These include companies like Nestle, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and PepsiCo, who have joined a pact to cut plastic pollution over the next seven years. These firms have pledged to work on eliminating single-use packaging through better design, among other measures.


There are multiple innovative solutions, to reduce the use of plastics in a business. Minimizing or eliminating the use of plastics for products or packaging purposes can be done. Replacing single-use plastics, with recyclable plastics or other alternatives, is one of the most effective solutions.


Which companies are working towards eliminating single plastic usage?

Multiple organizations have already put their best food forward and have come up with innovative solutions as a replacement for plastics. Some of the recent and prominent innovations, by leading companies across India and the world, have been accumulated from multiple online sources and listed below.


1 - Westlife Development Limited (WDL)

Westlife Development Limited (WDL), which operates a chain of McDonald’s restaurants in West and South India has replaced all single-use plastic materials with eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives. To ensure this, WDL have replaced plastic cutlery with wooden cutlery (spoons, stirrers, knives and forks) and replaced plastic cups with super quality paper cups. WDL has also introduced biodegradable lids for hot and cold beverages and introduced straws made from corn starch extract and eventually replaced them with paper straws.


Plastic cups and spoons are still used across many McDonalds outlets across India and the world (Representation image / Image credit: Insider)


2 - Vistara airlines

Among domestic airlines companies, Vistara is one of the only carriers to shift to oxy-biodegradable cutlery, in an effort to minimize plastic usage on their flights. These measures include replacing plastic casseroles with aluminium dishes, plastic straws and stirrers with paper or wooden ones, disposable bowls with reusable ones and eliminating 200ml plastic bottles. Other carriers like Jet Airways, have also started using paper cups, biodegradable bags, and insulated boxes for hot and cold items.


The erstwhile food trays in Vistara flights which used plastic products in abundance (Image credit: Live from a Lounge)


3 - Parle Agro

Parle Agro, the manufacturer of beverages like Frooti and Appy, has been working towards implementing an end-to-end PET plastic waste management (PWM) program and supporting the government’s initiatives in making the society free from plastic waste.

A key part of this program is to inculcate necessary habits among the new generation.

As per Schauna Chauhan, CEO of Parle Agro, “Our awareness campaign among school children driven by our employees is to help students effectively adopt sustainable techniques and strategies for efficient management of waste and support the growing ecosystem.”

4 - E-Commerce giants (Flipkart and Amazon)

India’s leading e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart, has brought in paper packaging techniques, replacing the earlier used plastic packaging methods, thus cutting down single-use plastic usage by approximately 50 percent. The company has been driving several initiatives as it pursues sustainable growth, which includes the introduction of eco-friendly paper shreds, replacing poly pouches with recycled paper bags, replacing bubble wraps and airbags with carton waste shredded material and two-ply roll, among others. Not just in packaging, Flipkart employees have also stopped using plastic cutlery at their corporate office in Bengaluru.


Another major e-commerce platform, Amazon India, has also committed to eliminating single-use plastics in packaging, in an effort to build an environmentally sustainable supply chain. It has successfully replaced plastic packaging materials, like bubble wraps and air pillows, with ‘paper cushion’ in its packaging, and introduced 100 percent plastic-free and biodegradable paper tapes in 2020, used to seal and secure customer shipments.



5 - Online food startups (Swiggy and Zomato)

Online food startups like Swiggy and Zomato, have also been working towards providing eco-friendly packaging alternatives, or providing an option to customers to order without the cutlery, which cuts down the plastic usage.


6 - Starbucks Coffee


Representation image (Image credit: Unsplash)


Global coffee giant, Starbucks, has phased out single-use straws from over 30,000 of its stores worldwide. While doing this, Starbucks has been replacing its plastic straws with lightweight, strawless cold drink lids.



Karo Sambhav: A way ahead in plastic waste management?

Apart from some of the companies mentioned above, some of India’s largest consumer goods firms like Coca-Cola, Bisleri and PepsiCo, among others, have announced their participation in a plastic waste management entity, called ‘Karo Sambhav’. Karo Sambhav (‘make it possible’ in Hindi) is a country-wide organisation, currently spread across 29 states, three union territories, and over 60 cities.


Karo Sambhav has been developed by Packaging Association for Clean Environment (PACE), an industry body, which will work towards recycling packaging material, collection of post-consumer packaging, work across a network of recovery facilities, and converge resources currently being used by its existing members to tackle plastic packaging waste material. Thus, through these plastic waste management initiatives, this entity will be supporting programmes aimed towards skill development, education of children and health management for waste pickers.

 

Edited by Aparna Chandrashekhar

 

Some resources and links to help you learn more about how companies are working to reduce single-use plastics:

  1. What are businesses doing to turn off the plastic tap?

  2. 5 companies leading the movement to go plastic free