Amazon and Flipkart need to establish system for collecting plastic waste: CPCB to NGT.

E-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to the packaging of their products, the Central Pollution Control Board told the NGT on Tuesday.

The apex pollution monitoring body told the National Green Tribunal that as per provisions 9(2) of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, “Primary responsibility for collection of used multi-layered plastic sachet or pouches or packaging is of Producers, Importers and Brand Owners who introduce the products in the market.

“Amazon Retail India Private Limited and Flipkart Private limited are involved in packaging and selling of other companies’ products and thus introducing plastic packaging in the market. They need to fulfil their extended producer responsibility under PWM Rules and should obtain registration as brand owner after submitting proper documents,” CPCB said.

The submission came in response to a plea filed by a 16-year-old boy who has approached the tribunal to stop e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart from excessive plastic use in their packaging.

Aditya Dubey, through his legal guardian, has pleaded the NGT to direct Amazon and Flipkart to stop excessive use of plastic in packaging the goods delivered by the firms.

“The e-commerce companies are covered under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. But due to a lack of monitoring and implementation, the respondents continue to use excessive amounts of plastic in wrapping and packaging their sold items,” said the plea, filed through advocate Divya Prakash Pande.

Dubey’s plea had contended that the companies deliver items in cardboard boxes, which are too large when compared to the size of the items being delivered.

“To ensure that the sold items do not move around in the outsized boxes, they wrap the items in multiple layers of plastic sheets and plastic bubble wraps and thereafter fill the large empty spaces in the boxes with additional sheets of single-use plastic,” it had said.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had posted the matter for hearing on January 3, 2020.

The plea has also said that though the home-delivery service of e-commerce companies have been very useful for consumers, they have given rise to serious environmental challenges due to excessive use of plastics in packaging.

Once goods are delivered, the plastic waste is thrown away in garbage and it ends up at landfill sites, leading to a burden on the earth and damaging the environment, it said.

“Single-use plastic has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges for our planet. It is cheap, useful, ubiquitous and very deadly. The fact that it’s non-biodegradable and is recycled in very small percentages means that our plant is with passage of time is becoming a big dumping ground for single use plastic. Single-use plastic breaks down into smaller fragments known as microplastics and then contaminates soil and water,” the petition had said.

Dubey said the two companies have not made any arrangements for either taking back the plastic material or ensuring that it is recycled.

“Plastic packaging constitutes 43 per cent of the total plastic waste generated in India and it is imperative that a direction be issued to the respondents that they should stop using plastic packaging materials and shift to environment friendly packaging option, the plea had said.

Delhi HC issues notice to Flipkart and Amazon over proxy sellers

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued notices to e-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon for violating FDI norms after a PIL filed by NGO Telecom Watchdog. The PIL alleged that both have been openly violating FDI norms for marketplace model of e-commerce and circumventing them by routing hot-selling products at much cheaper rates through proxy “Controlled Sellers” or “Name Lenders” and pushing out small sellers and brick-and-mortar retailers.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notices to the Centre, Amazon and Flipkart seeking their response by November 11 to the plea which has sought legal proceedings against the two under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), reports ET. According to Press Note 3 of 2016, which regulates FDI in e-commerce, entities like Amazon and Flipkart are not to exercise ownership over the stock, nor directly or indirectly influence the price of goods and services sold on their marketplace.

For uninitiated, Press note 3 says that 100 per cent FDI is only allowed under automatic route, only if the companies are engaged in B2B sales, but is not applicable to B2C transactions. As per the guidelines, e-commerce firms can function as a marketplace to connect buyers and sellers, and not influence prices. However, exchange offers, EMI costs, and bank offers are funded completely or substantially by Amazon and Flipkart and constitute a clear influence on price in violation of FDI norms, the PIL added.

Besides, both parties involve various intermediaries/support entities in the chain to divide discounts/losses which deserts smaller sellers to participate in the fast-growing e-commerce sector. Giving an example of Cloudtail, the largest seller on Amazon, the PIL alleged that it buys goods in bulk from many manufacturers and sell them on the online platform of Amazon Seller.

This is not the first time when both e-commerce behemoths come under FDI scanner. In April, this year, Indian Cellular Association (ICA) and Retailers Association of India (RIA) had raised the issue of FDI rules violations by the online marketplace platforms. At that time, they approached  Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and complained that these marketplace models have been operating against the spirit of the policy.