Look back at the past two years. During this period, if you felt that you, your family and friends or members of your extended social circle shopped more online, shopped for more online and shopped online more frequently, you weren’t imagining it – the numbers support your belief.
Sample this: Last year alone, over 180 million Indians bought something off the Internet – picture every single resident of Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan logging into an e-commerce portal in 2021 at least once. 180 million customers, at least 180 million packages.
With this, India now has the third-largest online shopper base in the world, after China and the US, but not for long. According to a report by Bain & Company, India might overtake the US to become the world’s second-largest consumer base in a year or two.
The world’s second-largest country by population will soon become the world’s second-largest online marketplace by population. And perhaps also the second largest producer of e-commerce packaging waste.
E-commerce becomes the neighbourhood shop
Titled ‘How India Shops Online 2022’, the report released in association with Flipkart reveals how market penetration of online portals is projected to grow. Currently, only in 1 in 20 Indians shops online; five years from now, 1 in 10 Indians will ride the e-commerce bandwagon. If these numbers seem modest, picture how much more is possible, and probable.
Rising disposable incomes, growing smartphone penetration, some of the cheapest data plans in the world and relatively low shipment costs will jet-propel online shopping in India. Tier II and Tier III cities – which are ill-equipped to manage plastic packaging waste – will see the most demand.
Five years from now, Indians are expected to spend more on online shopping than what the state governments of five prosperous South Indian states – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – will spend in the current financial year…combined.
Billions of packages will be received. But who will receive the packages after they are emptied?
Buy now, pay later – with the environment
The Government of India isn’t waiting for e-commerce to grow at an organic pace, and is rightly planning to become a driver of its growth instead. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has launched the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), which is set to go live across the country by the end of this year. Its target? To onboard a whopping 900 million buyers and 1.2 million sellers within five years, and make every fourth Indian an e-customer within the next two years alone.
Ambitious targets. Astounding volumes. Alarming amounts of waste.
Five years is a long time away; the festive season is now. According to a Shopify survey, Indian e-commerce companies are expecting a record-breaking 28% year-on-year jump in sales to $11.8 billion during this year’s shopping season alone – more than the GDP of Goa. 68% of these historic spends will be on home electronics and gadgets.
The problem of plastic waste profusion
A week or so from now, thousands of tonnes of plastic-based cushioning material that protected those brand new TVs, laptops and mobile phones will be dumped in community garbage bins, if they make it that far. This material is high on bulk but low on density. It does not make financial sense for waste upcyclers to collect and pay for the transport of plastic cushioning material, which occupies a lot of space but yields far too little material for upcycling.
The result? Disintegration and dispersal of plastic packaging waste into the community. Or its burning in an open area, releasing over 90 noxious products that are proven to harm the eyes, the central nervous system and much more. Or a pointless journey to the municipal dump, where it will take generations to decompose.
It takes five seconds to make an online purchase. About five minutes to safely pack an electronic device. As little as five hours for same-day delivery. And five centuries for plastic cushioning material to completely decompose in a landfill.
Where will that mostly intact packaging waste end up? Eventually, in the sea. Primordial life began in the ocean; human lifestyles are beginning to end life in the ocean.
Papering the way to sustainability
At Pack8, we believe cushioning should not cause catastrophe. That is why we work closely with e-commerce leaders and most of the D2C brands to replace plastic-based packaging material with HexCush, our paper-based cushioning solution and fill8, our paper-based void-filling solution.
Paper is sustainable, more biodegradable, easily recyclable and economically viable…everything that plastic is not.
We at Pack8 have stepped up to assume environmental responsibility for e-commerce. Sustainability used to be on the wishlist of e-commerce companies; now, they have added Pack8 to their cart. Our customers regularly give us top-notch ratings and reviews, and we deliver across India and the world.
Let’s say goodbye to plastic together, now!