Moving towards a plastic-free world: what can brands do


The following article has been written by Vikas Bagaria, Founder, Pee Safe

So, you just bought a tube of your favorite face cream or perhaps that lipstick in the gold and metallic tube you had been eyeing for long or something in a shiny plastic packaging. While all this may be adding color and variety to your life, there is something else it is adding up to as well – the amount of plastic waste being chucked into the environment every day. Once used fully and done, that lipstick tube or even the sanitary pad will end up in the existing 8 million tonnes of plastic waste washed into oceans every year, destroying the marine ecosystem and endangering life.

Plastic pollution is one of the several pressing environmental concerns. Ever since this disposable material was invented in 1869 by John W Hyatt, it has become an integral part of everyone’s lives. It is used in everything mostly because it is convenient, flexible, durable, and light. From airplanes and computers to the packaging of sanitary pads, plastic is everywhere. However, the hard truth is that our planet cannot digest this durable material, which takes at least 500 to 1000 years to degrade completely. One can only imagine how every bit of plastic that has ever been manufactured or used is still present in some form around us. The need of the hour is for brands and consumers to wake up, rapidly scale up innovations in packaging, and ensure that what goes around does not come around – definitely not plastic.

Recently, Swiss food giant Nestle announced that it would be looking at investing $2.1 billion over the next five years as a bid towards cutting its use of virgin plastics. It is also working towards investing in sustainable packaging and making all of it recyclable or reusable by 2025. Closer home, Flipkart is also working on initiatives such as introducing eco-friendly paper shreds, and replacing bubble wraps, etc., with carton waste shredded material. The brand aims to do away with single-use plastic by March 2021.

With a lot of buzz around and attention being given to sustainability and giving back to the environment, renowned brands are increasingly making the shift to minimizing the usage of plastics or doing away with it completely. Even a recent draft released by the United Nations outlines cutting nutrient and plastic pollution by 50%. This also makes it imperative for brands, both new and old, to hasten efforts towards using alternative options, even if they cannot completely stop the usage of plastic and associated products. Another aspect to this is the awareness of consumers and their concern towards the environment which is causing a shift in their purchasing habits. There have been instances of consumers boycotting brands for not doing their part and turning to those that are making a difference in this area.

Even brands that cater to hygiene products for both men and women are shifting to sustainable packaging and materials, understanding that this is the need of the hour. At Pee Safe, we have taken an initiative to bring in the concept of biodegradable products, to provide a safe and comfortable experience for both the mother nature and humans.

Biodegradable pads are made up of bamboo, jute, starch, corn and banana fibre usually, making it free from any chemicals, parabens, plastics and dyes. This makes them fully degradable and decreases the chances of plastic accumulation. We also have what are called the Oxo-biodegradable disposable bags which have minimal impact on the environment.

With a lot of focus on Swacch Bharat, Vocal for Local, and Make in India, there is ample and positive opportunity for brands to demonstrate their commitment and change their approach towards plastic usage. While a complete rewrite of status quo may not be possible, what can be undertaken is a packaging refresh or recycling initiative which will bring about a difference. It will help change consumer perception about the brand and ensure that they refer it ahead to new users. It is also key to make sure that the efforts are genuine and have the larger good of the business and environment in mind. A contrived campaign that is aimed only as a gimmick may not cut slack with consumers today, since they are savvy and aware enough to sniff out anything that is opportunistic. What can be done is to change a brand’s desire to bring about a difference into a positive opportunity. The promises must go beyond campaigns and connect with the consumers. At a larger level, it will also drive awareness and develop consumer consciousness towards minimizing the use of plastics for a better world and environment.

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