Increasingly eco-conscious consumers and investors are placing greater importance on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues than ever before.
As a result, e-commerce players have begun to make their supply chains greener and the startups are following the trend. Against this backdrop, climate action has become a competitive differentiator for e-commerce players in India, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
As the business operations affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic induced travel restrictions and lockdowns, consumers are now increasingly preferring the online mode to purchase goods and services. Consequently, GlobalData forecasts the Indian e-commerce (online retailing) industry to grow at a CAGR of 22% between 2020 and 2024 to be worth US$115.5bn in 2024.
Swati Verma, Associate Project Manager of Thematic Research at GlobalData, comments: “The e-commerce companies in India are covered under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. However, due to a lack of monitoring, they continue to use excessive amounts of plastic for packaging.
“The Indian government is concerned about the growing plastic pollution. A ban will make consumers even more conscious of the overuse of plastic and many will prefer e-commerce brands with effective green policies.”
To ensure full compliance with all extended producer responsibility regulations, Walmart-owned e-commerce platform Flipkart has recently announced that it has eliminated all single-use plastic packaging from supply chain in India. Amazon too replaced plastic in its packaging with sustainable, biodegradable alternatives. Additionally, both the players are making efforts to reduce emissions in their delivery fleets.
India’s e-commerce startups are also taking significant action. For example, online beauty store Nykaa has set up a recycling system for all its packaging and Tata Group-owned online grocery provider BigBasket transitioned to plastic-free packaging in 2020.
Ms Verma concludes: “GlobalData expects Indian e-commerce companies further strengthen their sustainability commitments. For foreign players like Amazon, this issue is crucial because of new government policies aimed at restricting their growth. For domestic startups, strong ESG credentials will help them attract more loyal customers and investors. E-commerce companies that are slow to adapt will struggle to compete in this lucrative market.”