Environmental concerns mount over Amazon's plastic packaging

Environmental concerns mount over Amazon's plastic packaging

Sustainability

A recent Oceana study sheds light on the increasing plastic packaging waste generated by Amazon in the United States.

According to the report titled "Amazon’s United States of Plastic," the e-commerce giant produced an estimated 208 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2022, marking a significant 9.6% rise from the previous year. This surge in plastic waste, primarily in the form of air pillows, underscores a growing environmental concern.

The calculation of Amazon's plastic footprint was based on available market data, with adjustments made considering recent public disclosures by the company regarding changes in its plastic packaging practices. While Amazon has reported a reduction in its global plastic delivery packaging by 11.6% in 2022 compared to 2021, efforts to curb plastic usage have predominantly focused outside the U.S., particularly in Europe, where the company has transitioned to 100% recyclable paper and cardboard packaging.

Despite these global efforts, a substantial amount of plastic packaging waste still finds its way into marine environments. Oceana estimates that up to 22 million pounds of Amazon's plastic packaging waste from 2022 may contribute to marine plastic pollution, highlighting the urgent need for more sustainable packaging solutions.

Amazon Prime truck © Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Matt Littlejohn, Oceana’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, said: Amazon’s failure to reduce plastic in the U.S. is troubling. The company has dramatically reduced plastic packaging in other major markets including India and Europe. Why are U.S. customers being left behind? According to research by YouGov, 85% of Amazon customers in the U.S. reported being concerned about plastic pollution. It’s time for Amazon to step up and commit to a global plastic packaging reduction everywhere it operates — including in the U.S.

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