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Here's why the inside of your Amazon package might soon look a little different

Amazon announced it's changing the way it boxes up packages to be more eco-friendly.
An Amazon package
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 21, 2024

Say bye-bye to the plastic air pillows that surround your delicate Amazon packages.

The company said Thursday it's done away with the element in 95% of its packaging in North America, and by Prime Day in July, nearly all deliveries will be void of them before they're gone for good at the end of the year.

What you'll see in your delivery instead will be paper fillers made from 100% recycled content that are curbside recyclable.

Amazon says this is its largest reduction in plastic packaging on the continent to date, with nearly 15 billion plastic air pillows it typically uses annually being replaced.

And it promises you won't see a difference: Amazon says testing of its paper filler, completed by the company and a third-party engineer lab, proved the replacement provides the same — if not better — protection compared to plastic air pillows.

The move is part of Amazon's multi-year effort to transition North American fulfillment centers away from using plastic delivery packaging.

In October, an Amazon automated fulfillment center in Ohio became the first to fully replace plastic packaging with paper. That helped it to quickly test and transition to paper filler for 95% of its shipments in the short time frame, as did employee cooperation and collaboration with paper filler suppliers.

Over the years, Amazon has also invested in other programs to reduce its waste. A program called Ships in Product Packaging, that tests deliveries with no additional packaging, reduced elements in 11% of shipments in 2022, the company reported. It's also piloting a program with an artificial intelligence company that uses robots to sort through recyclables and increase the use of recycled materials in packaging.

Still, there's work to be done, according to some estimates. The environmental group Oceana said Amazon generated more than 700 million pounds of plastic waste in 2021 — enough to plastic wrap the Earth 80 times over. That was up 18% from the year prior.

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