Packaging Waste, New Era Start-ups,Zero -Waste

Today a lot of food start-ups, e-commerce start-ups and e-grocery start-ups deliver items home based on on-line transaction. Customers and Sellers find async delivery suited to their comfort and convenience. Do they notice packaging material that arrives with their purchase?  Are they aware that they are part of waste creation?

packaging

New age start-ups charge for time based deliveries and not for package materials. Even delivery charge is waived for purchases above Rs 500. We see This blog touches upon packaging waste and does not include the consumption of petrol to deliver small value orders to people’s homes. Look out for follow-up blog on delivery boys.

Let us start understanding the waste creation by hotels, restaurants and grocery chain stores. Lot of them were providing plastic bags to their consumers. A lot of environment sensitive citizens worked to reduce packaging waste. With help of government, these firms were asked to charge customers who want plastic bag or additional special packaging. The goal was to discourage use of plastic and make people to bring environmental friendly bags from their homes.

One notices that in city like Bangalore, the Bangalore municipality expect large resident communities to perform waste management at community level. More waste created by new age start-ups have impact of this waste management created by local authorities.

When I visit a grocery store, the bill counter clerks ends your transaction with question “Do you need plastic bag or not?” No one has educated the clerk to ask the question. The question is asked for small items also, that can by customer in hand. Should customer not ask for bag/packaging if needed? Then the clerk needs to charge for the same.

Yesterday, we have to ask store clerk not to provide separate bags and took purchased items in another bag given by other store and our own bags. Same was experience with TITAN show room. Made me wonder that I need to be happy that clerk did not provide us with three bags for three clothes purchased by us and provided only one bag for customer.

In stores like Levis,Lee, Favourite Shop, Pizza Huts, I was not asked whether bag is needed. The customer is not charged for packaging also. I have observed in shops like Landmark and Westside, the clerk asks whether you need plastic cover. They also have a eco-friendly bag at counter for consumer to choose. When shops like Big Bazar perform home delivery, they leave items in their original covers and carry back the carry bag or packaging box.

When one orders food for 300 people from restaurants like A2B, the servers/bearers arrived with utensils and served in plastic plates. Now there is individual packaging for every person’s breakfast. There are corporate offices that have not glass or tumbler for drinking water and provide paper cups. You do not want to use paper cups, you can be thirsty, as there is no option. How to enable educated people to stop creating waste?.I observe Bangalore food Darshinis charge Rs 3 as packaging charge for one food item.

On seeing water bottles at marriage and talked to food contractor, he is aware and shares that he provides both options to customer, first option of glass/tumbler and second option of water bottle. He shares that more preference is for water bottle. Customer provide special request to have small water bottle light to carry, and are not aware that this leads to more bottles and more waste. The price difference between water in glass and water bottle is close to Rs 10 and customer are less concerned about price difference. When asked whether he can provide safe water for consumption? His answer was “Yes”

In name of comfort and convenience, people take items delivered in plastic bags and boxes. Both shop and customer are less bothered about waste created by them. There is no tracking of the amount of waste generated by merchant and the consumer. Both threw away packaging to dustbin, expecting some one to clean the waste.

On another hand,  packaging industry is happy with growing eCommerce industry “Packaging industry sees eCommerce driving next growth phase” . One does not see any guidelines stipulated by packaging industry to be followed by new age start-ups, similar to Packaging Waste: Producer Responsibilities.

Let us move on with our experience with new age start-ups

  • Both flipkart.com and amazon.in charge customers for packaging till purchase price of Rs 500 and ship product free when customer purchase price is more than Rs 500. They have innovate charging mechanisms based on when customer purchases every time, the waster produced per customer increases. Everyone is worried on convenience and comfort and less worried about packaging and the waste created.
  • Recently I ordered from freshmenu.com. The delivery boy brings the food in its box carries as part of large bag. He provides food in my hand, similar to Pizza Hut or Dominoes. Still there was a beautiful plastic box left with me. Another local food guy charged Rs 20 for packaging as part of online order.
  • When I ordered books earlier from amazon.in and flipkart.com, book comes in a big plastic cover. Last week on purchasing Kindle, we found packaging to be compact one which is more paper based. May be they are eco-friendly when it comes to their own products.

To handle waste created by innovation of new age start-ups, innovations in handling waste and approach to penalized folks creating waste needs to be innovated also. The tracking was tricky and time-consuming in physical world for government agencies. With infrastructure created by new age start-ups,  there may be a effective proposal to reduce waste that might also be easier to implement.


We need to track waste already created by new age start-ups. Can we track the same with Waste Debt Score?

What is Waste Debt Score? For every buy transaction made from these sites, there shall be waste index added to customer. There shall be waste index added to seller. For every sale happening on platform, there shall be waste index added to new age start-up platform. With waste index, it should be possible to charge special taxes when waste index for any individual crosses particular level. This tracking is similar to customer credit score.

We need to reduce further creation of waste. For folks creating waste, there shall be charge to pay to be used for saving environment. Can we introduce waste cess for buyer?

What is Waste Cess? Every customer who purchases items less than Rs 500 pays waste cess of Rs 5 per package. For items purchased are of value more than Rs 500, waste cess is one per cent of item price. The waste cess is similar to service tax and is additional to packaging charges charged by seller.

Is there Waste Cess for seller? The seller pays Rs 5 per every transaction and this money goes to the municipality/panchayat where seller are located.

Where does collected money go to? Waste cess collected from buyers are shared in monthly payments with municipality/panchayat where buyer and seller are located. The new age start-up would be responsible to collect waste cess and share with them. In addition, the new age start-up pays additional one per cent of the cess collected through their platform.

Should we not innovate to reduce waste? Sellers can get certified for making use of eco-friendly materials for packaging. Here seller would not get charged. The new age start-up can provide e-training to the sellers of waste reduction and the expenses can reduce waste cess to be paid on their behalf.

I am sure of technology role in waste management and collecting waste cess and also tracking waste debt score. What do you think?