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An Amazon employee walks through a turnstile gate at a fulfillment centre on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India, on Sept. 18, 2018.Reuters Photographer/Reuters

The Indian unit of Amazon.com Inc has eliminated all single-use plastic in its packaging across fulfilment centres in the country, in line with its target to weed out the packaging material by June, the e-commerce giant said on Monday.

The company said in addition to replacing packaging materials such as bubble wraps and air pillows with “paper cushions,” it had also swapped out packaging tapes with other biodegradable options.

“We have successfully eliminated single-use plastic in all our fulfilment centres a 100 per cent,” Akhil Saxena, vice-president of customer fulfilment for the APAC, LATAM and Middle East and North Africa regions, said in an interview.

Amazon, often criticized for using too much plastic and thermocol to wrap its billions of packages of shipments, had said last September that its India unit would replace single-use plastic in its packaging by June 2020.

Saxena said on Monday the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed down some of their work, but Amazon India managed to meet its target as the unit had started on the elimination project even before the national lockdown was imposed.

Last October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called on citizens to help end the usage of single-use plastic – seen as a pollutant – by 2022.

The Asian country of 1.3 billion does not have an organized system for management of plastic waste, leading to extensive littering.

Many Indian cities rank among the world’s most polluted, and waste generated from single-use plastic has been a growing problem.

Walmart Inc’s India e-commerce unit Flipkart, a local rival to Amazon, said last month that it had cut down the usage of plastic packaging in its own supply chain to about 50 per cent.

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