Big Basket Green initiative about which I mentioned in my E-commerce packaging waste article, looks efficient for their day to day operations. We wanted to know more about their initiative and the efforts they are putting so we connected with them and got answers to our questions from Big Basket Ceo Hari Menon. Here’s what Big Basket green initiative is all about and how they work to make the Planet greener and better:
Swati: How did the idea of Green Bigbasket came. Are there any other initiative you are planning to implement in the future for Green Big Basket.
Hari Menon: Fundamentally, as a company, we believe in sustainability & are very pro-green. It’s the right way to operate businesses with equal care & concern for the environment as for customers & employees. Bigbasket believes in doing well by doing good and that includes doing good for the environment as well. So Green is a part of our operating DNA. We have so far taken several steps towards this.
a. We deliver groceries to our customers in open crates & not plastic bags. Crates is the single largest capex item for us & is actually more difficult to handle rather than just going & delivering in plastics. But we chose to do it the green way from start.
b. We follow waste segregation & management in all our facilities. In many cases, it’s mandated by government but even where it is not, we follow it. In Bangalore, we give the wet waste to our farmers who in turn use it for composting & recycling.
c. Our packaging in Bangalore for fresh is completely paper. In other cities too, we use biodegradable plastic and corrugated boxes that are recyclable.
d. There are 2 places where we have completed successful green projects which will now be rolled out across all our cities. First, we have completed installation & testing of solar energy panels in Bangalore. The rooftop of our warehouse is now covered with solar panels & supplies almost a 5th of our power requirements. We will be rolling that out across the country. In the other case, in Delhi, we have piloted using battery driven e-vehicles in lieu of regular fossil fuel powered vans and will be using those for delivery.
There are other things that we do like maintaining greenery around our facilities wherever there is space or using less of paper in our offices & promoting it as a habit on an ongoing basis.
Swati: What are it’s impact on economic level for the company, does it involve any additional overheads.
Hari Menon: Yes – It does impact us both positively as well as negatively. Positively as in some cases, it actually improves efficiency, like in the case of electric vehicles in NCR. Negatively when we go for eco-friendly options that cost more. Crates & solar paneling come with a high capex. Equally, there is the cost of training & maintaining practices in all our facilities.
Swati: What challenges you faced initially for establishing Green Bigbasket concept. Were the customers happy with it or they asked for traditional packaging methods.
Hari Menon: There were 2 challenges:
a. Customers are used to getting carry bags from vendors. Especially customers who ask for deliveries at their offices initially expected us to deliver in bags but over time, they have gotten used to it & carry their own bags if receiving outside home. But what we have seen is customers are very appreciative of our environmental initiatives & support us.
b. It was also a hard process to put in discipline among our 10000+ blue collar operation workers like pickers, delivery boys, etc to teach them waste management, power & water conservation & enforcing those behaviours. But again, they have been wonderfully receptive & supportive of the same.
Swati: Any other E commerce company which inspired/inspires you for Green Big Basket initiative.
Hari Menon: Not really…
Swati: Why do you think Ecommerce companies should opt for Green initiatives or in other words “What message you have for other E-commerce companies to Go Green”
Hari Menon: Today, we face 2 major threats – 1 of climate change & other of rapidly diminishing resources. As responsible companies, we should be doing business in a way that mitigates these rather than adds to these woes. Only then have you been truly responsible & done your duty to the society.