Amazon Inc and H&M pressing to soften Maharashtra’s plastic ban

Vastavam web: Multinational companies like Amazon Inc and H&M are lobbying to soften a ban against single-use plastic imposed by an Indian state last week, according to four sources familiar with the matter. The ban by the state of Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital of Mumbai, could sharply raise costs for companies that rely heavily on plastic for packaging, such as retailers, beverage makers and sellers of bottled water.

Plastic packaging accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste globally, and much of it is thrown away within just a few minutes of its first use, according to the United Nations. Representatives of companies including Amazon, H&M, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, as well as plastic industry bodies and lobby groups, met with Maharashtra government officials days before the ban came into effect on June 23, urging them to implement the rule in phases and relax some norms, said the four sources who declined to be named.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, whose members include online retailers such as Amazon India and Flipkart, said in a June 7 letter to the state government that such a ban “will not be without its own share of adverse environmental impacts which are largely driven by issues associated with the use of alternatives”. Beverage makers such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola, meanwhile, want an exemption from the rules as they mandate a buyback of empty bottles at a guaranteed price, which will raise costs, another source familiar with the talks said.

Amazon, Flipkart, Pepsi and Coca-Cola did not respond to requests for comment. H&M said in a statement that it supported reusing and recycling, adding that the company had asked the government to clarify the rules and for help coming up with solutions. A senior state official told Reuters the government could moderate some aspects of the rule for online retailers as well or give them more time to comply. Another official confirmed that issues raised by the industry was being looked into.