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 Climate Change

Environment
Published on: Sept. 19, 2020, 10:21 p.m.
Packmile is helping reduce waste in ecommerce and transit
  • BHive packaging for a ceramic cup

By Business India Editorial

Like many entrepreneurs, Pawan Maheshwari (Founder and CEO, Packmile) began his entrepreneurial journey by identifying a challenge. He worked in the capital markets industry for nearly a decade and held leadership positions at Reuters, Deutsche Bank and ANZ, before plunging into the startup world.

In 2015, the ecommerce industry in India was well on its upwards trajectory and etailers needed strong and reliable packaging solutions for shipping their fragile products. Spotting an opportunity, Pawan founded Packmile, a packaging solutions company in 2015 and invested time and research in understanding the technology of packaging solutions, and more importantly customer needs in the transport and transit space.

In 2017, having a strong sense that he was contributing to, rather than solving the plastic waste crisis in India, Packmile made a fundamental shift to sustainable packaging solutions. With the clear view that, “You cannot just ban the use of something, you have to present a viable alternative,” Pawan redirected his research into understanding the nuances and requirements of reusable and biodegradable packaging solutions.

As a businessman, he was also clear that any solution he created would have to present a viable balance of sustainability and pricing to customers, and product development at Packmile has a strong underpinning of comparative pricing to enable smoother switching.

Primarily focused on B2B customers, Packmile currently services both large enterprises and smaller boutique organisations with a sustainability sensibility. As with any new product, there were initial customer adoption challenges, with etailers expressing concern about the sturdiness and cost effectiveness of Packmile’s sustainable solutions.

Packmile has been able to prove both the reliability and RoI of its products however, and is a trusted packaging partner now for enterprises like Amazon, IKEA, Decathlon, Myntra, Nykaa, Reliance, Bosch, Fanuc, and Merck. Its pricing is on par with the traditional less sustainable products it replaces, with certain products costing less.

Some of the growth and customer adoption has been driven by supportive government policy. In 2018 the Maharashtra government banned the use of single-use plastic, followed soon after by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and a number of other states.

At the same time, there has been a growing awareness from both end customers and etailers of the imperative to reduce packaging waste in ecommerce use and transit. While Pawan has seen this transition in awareness, he believes there is still work to be done around educating on circularity and waste.

Packmile’s solutions fall into two primary areas – green packaging and reusable packaging. The current product portfolio includes, CORM™ - that converts scrap material into useful packaging fillers for wrapping or void filling; BHIVE, a design patented paper bubble wrap solution; Water-activated Paper tape that uses starch-based adhesives; and re-usable, customized pallet-wraps and pallet-straps.

Packmile’s work has seen broad recognition from customer and industry partners. Pawan is a member of various industry groups such as CII GreenCo, IWMA and addresses its members on sustainable packaging innovations. Packmile is also a certified Amazon partner both for Amazon’s packaging requirements and for its partner-vendors.

While the company currently serves the Indian market both directly and through distributor partnerships, Packmile is starting to see strong opportunities and inbound demand from international markets.

Pawan’s ambition is to create a broad range of packaging and wrapping products for all industries and requirements. He plans, as the next priority focus, to address the needs of the FMCG packaging and sachet sector.

The requirements of this sector are more complex and the technology will require significantly more R&D investment. While profitable, the company plans to explore raising funding for expansion and new product development as the markets stabilise.

Pawan believes that by enabling the transition of the FMCG industry to sustainable packaging and that by solving the problem of plastic waste, Packmile has an opportunity to balance sustainability, impact and address a very large and growing market.


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