Release: Students call for Amazon to ‘pack up’ plastic ahead of annual shareholder meeting

Media Contacts
Sander Kushen

Former Consumer Advocate, CALPIRG

LOS ANGELES — Members of CALPIRG Students’ UCLA branch, joined environmental activists and others on the UCLA campus Thursday to call on Amazon to “pack up” plastic. The students and activists have been campaigning to get the e-commerce company to eliminate single-use plastic packaging in its U.S. shipments in advance of a vote expected at Amazon’s annual general meeting on May 24. The proposal that shareholders will likely vote on would require Amazon to develop a plan to reduce plastic waste. During the event, students presented research about how little of Amazon’s plastic packaging gets recycled

“Plastic does not biodegrade; instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces that pollute Earth’s ecosystems,” said Emily Hance-Royse, Campaign Coordinator of the Beyond Plastics Campaign. “To reduce plastic pollution and its subsequent harms, Amazon must act by reducing its use of plastic packaging—including its plastic mailers, air pillows and bubble wrap—and instead use sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives.”

Amazon claims on its website that many of its packaging items are widely recyclable, either through curbside recycling programs or store drop-off. In addition, its plastic mailing envelopes and air pillows come labeled with “chasing arrows” recycling symbols, the words “Store Drop Off” and the website url  

““The idea is that you can recycle the plastic items by going to the website, typing in your ZIP code and finding a recycling drop-off location near you. We wanted to see if this would really work.” said Hance-Royse

The students put a tracking device in 14 Amazon plastic mailing envelopes, air pillows, or grocery store bags and put each of them in a different store drop-off, recycling take-back bin in 14 stores across California. What they found is that 9 of the 14 plastic mailers or bags ended up in landfills. 

“This small-scale experiment shows that the store drop-off system for recycling plastic film is, as we’ve suspected, failing,” said Sander Kushen, an advocate with CALPIRG. “Most likely, the material is not getting recycled because the market really doesn’t exist for recycling plastic film. We can’t recycle our way out of the plastic waste crisis. We need to just use less plastic.” 

CALPIRG and CALPIRG Students have joined other environmental organizations to turn in over 138,000 petitions to Amazon headquarters calling on the company to eliminate plastic in its U.S. shipments. 

“Amazon has already committed to stop using single-use plastic in shipments within Germany and India. Biodegradable alternatives to single-use plastic film are available now. So there’s no excuse for the continued use of plastic packaging in the U.S.” said Kushen.