Beyond Plastic

Amazon announces the end of its plastic padded shipping bags

On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it is phasing out its padded shipping bags.

Environment Washington Research & Policy Center's Pam Clough delivered tens of thousands of petition signatures to Amazon with WashPIRG student volunteers, calling on the worlds largest e-commerce company to reduce plastic packaging in U.S. shipments.

On Tuesday, in its 2022 sustainability report, Amazon announced that it is “phasing out padded bags containing plastics in favor of recyclable alternatives.” The e-commerce company also said its use of single-use plastic across its global operations network (i.e., orders shipped through its fulfillment centers) declined by 11.6% from 2021 to 2022.

The eventual end of the blue and white plastic mailing envelopes is welcome news. Most plastic is landfilled, burned in incinerators, or breaks into small pieces in the environment, rather than being recycled. Micro-plastics have been found in nearly every corner of the globe, as well as human bodies, potentially with harmful impacts.

“For a bird, fish or whale, it’s easy to mistake a small piece of plastic for food—especially when millions of pieces of plastic are floating in our rivers and oceans,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, the zero waste program director with Environment America. “Too often, ingesting this plastic is fatal for wildlife. To protect animals from these dangers, it’s critical that companies such as Amazon use less plastic in their shipments. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the environment for hundreds of years. Tuesday’s announcement is a good step in the right direction.”

The plastic that Amazon and other e-retailers wrap around our online deliveries litters our communities soon after we open our packages and can linger for decades,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director with CALPIRG. “It’s great to see Amazon commit to phasing out some of its plastic packaging. Now, Amazon should set an ambitious deadline for that phase-out while continuing to reduce its plastic footprint by eliminating all single-use plastic in its shipments.” 

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