6 Sep 2019, 12:30 — 5 min read
Background: Yuktie Jhangiani Verma, founder of Kosha, a travel wear brand that keeps you warm on your travels, talks about how adopting sustainable packaging is the need of the hour for e-commerce businesses. She explains how her business has been able to successfully adopt sustainable packaging practices, thereby minimising waste and pollution.
“Convergence will be the theme for this century,” said Diipti Jhangiani, founder of Edible Gardens. As she explained her concept, that multiple devices are merging into the smartphone, I realised that it is also relevant in the case of electronic commerce or business happening through transactions on the internet. Who would have imagined from the most mundane to the most exquisite, from the state-of-the-art television to everyday grocery and everything in between, can be bought online?
I personally believe that e-commerce is a big enabler. Because of its reach, people living in tier 2 and 3 cities, have access to brands like anyone else in the major cities. The sector has opened employment opportunities and led to exponential growth in the logistics sector. The trend to shop online is constantly increasing as we get more familiar with the medium and user experience improves. Hence, I knew that e-commerce would be a key engine for growth for my business in clothing.
While that is the upside, the downside is the increased use of single use plastic packaging. From vegetables to sofas, mobile phones to garments; they are all very quickly and easily put in the white plastic enveloped, sealed and dispatched. Earlier, we used to write the address on the envelope. Now, they have made a plastic compartment that houses the paper invoice or cellotape is used incessantly.
I personally believe that e-commerce is a big enabler. Because of its reach, people living in tier 2 and 3 cities, have access to brands like anyone else in the major cities. The downside is the increased use of single use plastic packaging.
According to TechCrunch, one of the largest marketplaces shipped 5 billion packages under the Prime program in 2017. That is 5 billion plastic packages that most of us will discard and hence will become waste. During the rains and high tides, the sea threw back more than 215MT of trash in July 2018. Unconscious use of plastic is disbalancing the equilibrium in nature, increasing toxicity in our soils and affecting all living beings.
While there was emphasis to grow online, I wanted to change the status quo. Hence, we worked with students at Ecole Intuit Lab to bring in innovation in online packaging.
Brief to Ecole Intuit Lab: As a company we not only believe in sustainability but also try our best to incorporate this in every aspect of business. This goes beyond just the product. It extends to packaging, materials used in store, business practices (we set up a repair shop to fix worn out garments for free and reduce excessive consumption!) and more.
Today, we buy online - be it clothes or groceries. And they come wrapped in a whole lot of plastic.
While e-commerce is a leveller and provides access to people beyond Tier 1 cities, our aim is to create packaging with sustainable materials. Now, sustainability need not just come from materials. Packaging that is reusable results in staying away from plastic bags.
Packaging is required to pack gloves, t shirts, sweaters and jackets individually. Sizes - S/ M/ L.
Professor Madhu, their packaging professor guided the students. Yash and Aamir’s project was selected. They designed a bag made with jute, which converted to a backpack when reversed. We had struck gold!
While the concept of Kosha’s e-commerce bag is beautiful and the bag is appreciated by customers, the bag costs 20x that of the plastic envelope. It may seem counterintuitive to business, but it is not when you think of the environment. Moreover, if we come together and change the way we dispatch online parcels, the volumes will help reduce the cost, making it a win-win for business and the earth.
Over to you.
Also read: Strengthen your business with innovation
Image source: shutterstock.com
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