Amazon says it will eventually stop shipping packages in padded plastic bags in an effort to reduce packaging waste, according to a sustainability report. report the company launched on Tuesday.
“We are phasing out padded plastic-containing bags in favor of recyclable alternatives,” the report says. But it’s missing one important detail: a deadline for when the company plans to make the switch.
The company did not answer questions about its plan the edge. “Our first goal is to eliminate packaging entirely wherever possible, and when additional Amazon packaging is required to ship a product, we strive to optimize that packaging to increase recyclability and reduce carbon emissions,” Elizabeth Fine, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in an email.
“If Amazon goes ahead, this is good news for the oceans.”
Less than 10 percent of the world’s plastic waste has ever been recycled. The material is more difficult to repeat than paper; plastic bottles are often “upcycled” into lower quality materials such as carpet fibers. And plastic bags are even harder to recycle. Since municipal recycling programs cannot normally accept plastic bags or film, most people in the US would have to take their Amazon envelopes to designated drop-off locations if they want to avoid the landfill.
The e-commerce giant is likely to use more flexible plastic packaging than almost any other company in the world. according to activist shareholders that have pushed the company to devise a plan to reduce its waste. Once packages arrive at customers’ doors, much of the plastic ends up in landfills or escapes into the sea, since most recycling programs won’t accept it. So Amazon’s removal of its ubiquitous blue and white padded packaging could have a significant impact on the amount of plastic pollution accumulating in the environment, advocates say.
“If Amazon goes ahead, this is good news for the oceans,” Matt Littlejohn, senior vice president of conservation organization Oceana, said in a statement. Press release. “The company should also commit to a phase-out deadline and make an explicit commitment to reduce all of its plastic packaging other than padded mailers, but this is real progress and will mean far less single-use plastic will find its way into the world’s seas.”
Amazon used 11.6 percent less single-use plastic in its global shipments in 2022 compared to the previous year, the company says in its sustainability report. To do that, Amazon turned to more paper materials and tried to make the packages lighter. But that figure only includes Amazon’s owned-and-operated fulfillment centers and not the network of third-party prep and packing facilities.