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  • Writer's pictureHemang Gala

Uncovering the Unseen Plastic Pollution: A Trekker’s Journey

In 2021, I jumped on the invitation of a dear friend to join a small party to climb in the relatively unexplored region of Kistwar in Jammu and Kashmir. After an arduous hike of 3 days, leaving human contact well behind by now, we approached our advance base camp. As I approached the spot marked by a Gujjar hut, a translucent pink polythene bag floated dreamily towards us. Juxtaposed against the shapely peak of Kistwar Kailash, the unexpected presence

of that decidedly city relic was jarring. Even the hardy and enterprising Gujjar shepherds had introduced plastic into their lives.

If the sheer growth of plastic use is anything to go by, it bodes well for the economic

projections (or at-least the ones who make these projections) for us as an emerging economy. By which I mean, a behemoth of a consumer economy in its own right.

While plastic over the years has found incredibly diverse applications, it occupies a very central role in the Packaging and E-commerce industries. Two of the fastest growing industries and ones that directly shine a light on the changing consumption patterns and aspirations of an Indian individual.

With the perfect cocktail of excellent penetration of cheap internet, an extended pandemic and multiple players (read deep pocket FDI) jostling for eyeballs, the E-commerce space is expected to become a USD 400 billion industry by 2030. As it stands, it is poised to hit USD 80 billion in 2022 and over USD 110 billion within the next two years. Hard to contest such numbers when it grew a staggering 77% in 2021 over the previous year, with record breaking transactions from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

E-commerce Investors have been smart to foresee this (as is their wont) investing more than USD 37 billion in e-commerce start-ups since 2014.

And boy, have they been vindicated. The top 10 online shopping apps averaged over 7 million daily active users each in a single quarter (Q2) in 2021. A jump of over 18% year-over-year the Packaging sector isn’t one to be left behind either. An industry that was pegged around USD 50.5 billion in 2019 is expected to hit approximately USD 205 billion by 2025. A whopping CAGR of 26.7%. A large chunk of this is attributed to FMCG and E-commerce goods.

When a country of over 1.3 billion wakes up to its new found conveniences and aspirations the numbers are bound to be jaw dropping in scale. Indians are pegged to be the second biggest online shopping community by 2030. A whopping 700 million strong.

But with great investments come great volumes. And with great volumes comes great responsibility.

Plastic and its chiefly polymeric ingredients are an integral part of this heady romance of convenience, speed, e-commerce and packaging. By lending their diverse phenomenal properties-water, oil and atmospheric barriers, sturdiness, impact resistance, inertness to name only a few, they truly enable the success of the packaged and home delivered e-commerce phenomena.

Hurdles of perishability and damage have been conveniently overcome for almost all sorts of resources. This has removed the geographical limits of how far a certain product can be taken away from its source and still retain its original properties. Whether its exquisite hand crafted glassware from Czech or the Mangoes of our western ghats. So while on the one hand it has enabled furthering boundaries of trade and commerce like never before, it has also created a bi-product that both the

consumer and the environment doesn’t know what to do with.

The challenges and threats of plastic pollution is a topic that has more than enough resources for one’s perusal. The need to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is a mantra readily dished out across forums but the numbers only prove otherwise.

While the challenges with plastic waste are numerous and it is not an impossible hurdle to overcome. Our over dependence on certain materials to an extent of becoming habit forming mechanisms need to be addressed. In a scenario where regulations are not stringent enough and bottom lines dictate business decisions in large tiered businesses, solutions must come from the customers and brands that can take the true ecological and social costs of existing practices into account.

Go Do Good is one such research-led sustainable packaging solutions business. At Go Do Good, we strive to innovate solutions to existing wasteful and ecologically harmful

materials. Cognisant of the needs and aspirations of a growing economy we help businesses and brands that also believe in greener business practices. We innovate leveraging what nature has to give us (which is plentiful) to

create packaging solutions that are ultimately home compostable.

What most see as waste, we see as a potentially green packaging solution. Your resource to building honest regenerative business.



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