Towards a "Plastic Free" Environment

Cummins empowered the less privileged to manufacture paper bags and thereby reduce the use of plastic bags


As estimated, an average individual in Pune uses around 130 plastic bags/year and the number is increasing, owing to the rapid growth of industrialization. Hence, it becomes critical to curb the usage of plastic bags that are non-biodegradable in nature and negatively impact the environment.

Approach and effort

Cummins launched the Paper Bag Project under which plastic bags are replaced by bags made from newspapers. Employees not only created awareness in the community about the ill effects of the usage of plastic bags, but also trained various NGOs on how to make paper bags from daily newspapers. This has generated employment for the differently-abled groups and empowered the less privileged to make a positive difference in their lives and to the community.

In line with our mission of 'demanding that everything we do leads to cleaner, safer and healthier environment', the focus of the project was to replace plastic bags by newspaper bags, firstly in-house (to the extent possible) and secondly, to tap the external market simultaneously. Cummins employees donated newspapers to provide as raw materials to the NGOs so that they could produce the paper bags.

In a step towards replacing the plastic bags being used inside Cummins, various opportunities were identified for usage of paper bags instead of plastic bags. A demand for an estimated 40,000 paper bags has been generated within the Company.

In addition to efforts being dedicated internally, various steps were undertaken to increase the usage of paper bags outside of Cummins as well. Various Self-help groups of women were trained to market these paper bags in order to get orders regularly from the open market.

Looking at the huge benefits this project delivers, the next steps intended are:

  • Designing and delivering production machine to scale up production using our core engineering skills
  • Identifying further in-house opportunities for paper bag utilization
  • Exploring similar opportunities at other Cummins entities in India
  • Rally by Cummins employees in order to generate awareness on usage of paper bags
  • Visiting schools in order to create awareness about the project amongst children
  • Finding new partners in the open markets

In addition to the above efforts, Cummins has outsourced the manufacturing of these paper bags to the students of the Blind Girls School, differently-abled members of 'Apanga Vikas Kendra' (an NGO) and a committee of 10-15 women from Pabal, a small village accommodating mainly tribal laborers. They have been engaged and trained to make these paper bags in order to earn a living for themselves.

Resulting Change

  • The usage of paper bags is being promoted with engine catalogues being packed in newspaper bags instead of plastic bags.
  • 6000 paper bags were used for distribution of sweets to employees during festivals
  • At least 1,00,000 plastic bags (1 ton by weight) per year, will be replaced by utilizing paper bags in-house and by identifying customers in the open market with the help of the self-sustaining marketing model developed by the Cummins marketing team.
  • The women self-help groups established market linkage for this product and received orders for 5000 numbers of paper bags per month.
  • The women from Pabal village were paid 2 rupees per bag. In a day, the committee manufactures 20-30 bags. Thus, they have started earning a living for themselves.
  • Various Cummins entities purchased these paper bags from the women resulting in an earning of Rs. 35,000 (approximately). Prior to this, these women had no livelihood other than labor or daily wage earnings.
Towards a "Plastic Free" Environment