Recyclable Amazon packing methods

Recyclable Amazon packing methods

Recyclable Amazon packing methods.

As more and more individuals start receiving weekly or even daily parcels from Amazon, the corporation has become an ever-more-pervasive part of our lives. The problem of how to recycle all those boxes, bubble envelopes, and Prime Now paper bags has become obvious as these parcels begin to swell on doorsteps throughout the globe.

The answer is not really obvious given the enormous range of packaging.

In the US, users who place purchases that Amazon fulfills may click on any item in the Amazon app and scroll to the bottom to find recycling or trash instructions. Amazon does give guidance on the subject.

People may also ask Alexa or Siri, who will both refer them to Amazon’s policies, “How can I recycle my Amazon packaging?”

However, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace David Pinsky does not believe that this knowledge is really helpful.

“While sharing knowledge is beneficial, Amazon continues to put the onus of managing its massive packaging impact on consumers. The reality is that very few plastics are still recyclable, and even if they are collected for recycling, the majority of them are not recycled as the U.S. and worldwide recycling industries fail. It’s time for Amazon to stop using any single-use packaging and switch to reusing and refilling systems, according to Pinsky, a campaigner for big businesses to use less single-use plastic.

According to Pinsky, big businesses like Amazon need to assume responsibility by getting rid of disposable packaging and transitioning to reuse and refill systems.

Frustration-Free Packing, a service offered by Amazon, contains goods made to ship in their own packaging without the need for extra Amazon mailers or boxes. Products in “Frustration-Free Packaging” feature more environmentally friendly packaging that is better proportioned, less likely to cause damage, composed of recyclable packaging materials, and is simpler to open, claims Amazon.

Additionally, it is composed entirely of curbside recyclable materials. And to a certain degree, the choice is working. Thanks to initiatives like Frustration-Free Packing, Amazon has decreased the weight of outbound packaging by 36% and removed more than a million tons of packaging material, the equivalent of over 2 billion shipping boxes, since 2015.

Additionally, Amazon introduced a totally recyclable paper cushioned envelope in 2019. According to an Amazon representative, the business has distributed more than 200 million new mailers to clients by the middle of 2020.

These envelopes give the same level of recyclables as Amazon’s cardboard boxes while taking up less room in the recycle bin.

As a means to utilize less packaging in its shipments and encourage consumers to reuse boxes before recycling, the firm also launched its “Less Packaging, More Smiles” campaign in 2020.

For instance, there are creative methods to recycle cardboard boxes from Amazon, such as using them to make a cat or dog vehicle, a fort, or a rocket.

However, it’s possible that these sustainability initiatives don’t go far enough. According to the Washington Post, Amazon is increasingly substituting tiny plastic mailers for cardboard boxes in order to fit more deliveries into delivery aircraft and vehicles.

It employs a lot of plastic film in its normal and bubble-lined plastic bags as well as its plastic mailers. On its website, Amazon adds that some areas have curbside recycling programs. If your city doesn’t, Amazon offers a webpage to help you locate a drop-off place that can accept plastic film, which the website defines as retail establishments, public recycling facilities, and private recyclers.

Pinsky asserts that this website is not exhaustive due to the absence of a list of all available options in some categories.

According to Darby Hoover, a senior resource expert at the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) who focuses on plastic waste concerns, there aren’t that many communities that have recycling systems that take plastic film.

Even if recycling facilities do take plastic film, processing it may be challenging, if not impossible, since the material often gets stuck in equipment, according to a representative for Recology, the company that runs recycling, landfills, and compost facilities.

Recology employees attempt to physically remove stray plastic film before it enters the equipment in an effort to prevent this issue, but this doesn’t always succeed. The Recology spokeswoman said that “Amazon packages represent a problematic new packaging trend.”

The firm made an effort to address the issues with plastic film in 2021 and revamp many of these plastic goods to be more sustainable, raising the recycled content of plastic film bags from 25% to 50% and that of its plastic cushioned bags from 15% to over 40%. According to the corporation, the upgrades should prevent the production of more than 25,000 metric tons of new plastic annually going ahead.

The business also disclosed its collaboration with the BOTTLE consortium, a U.S. Department of Energy research project to decrease plastic pollution, in March 2022 to develop innovative techniques for plastic chemical upcycling.

Additionally, in more than 168 Amazon locations in North America and Europe, Amazon now provides on-site plastic film recycling.

Pinsky continues to advise doing your own research to locate drop-off points and finding out if your local supermarket recycles plastic film.

The paper address label is another factor. According to Hoover, a self-adhesive label is probably not recyclable. Amazon’s decision to increase the availability of single-use plastics is “quite troubling,” according to Pinsky.

Even if purchasing goods online has become the norm, consumers shouldn’t be left to find out how to recycle on their own. Companies must also step up, according to Hoover.

Here’s how you recycle Amazon’s packaging in the meantime.

  1. A mailer for paper-padded envelopes
    Two views of a padded envelope with the Amazon logo.
    How can I recycle the paper mailer from Amazon? Source: AMAZON
    These paper mailers are recyclable, according to Amazon, much as cardboard boxes and other paper products.

Similar to Pinsky, paper goods should be accepted by the majority of curbside recycling systems.

  1. A plastic bag and a bubble-lined bag
    a blue and white plastic bag with bubble lining from Amazon.
    The bubble-lined plastic bag from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    a plastic bag from Amazon in black and white.
    a plastic bag from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    According to a statement on Amazon’s website, certain localities provide curbside recycling. If your city doesn’t, you may input your zip code on Amazon’s website to discover a drop-off facility that will take the plastic film that these bags contain if your city doesn’t already.

However, certain drop-off sites may not be willing to take bubble-lined plastic bags, according to Pinsky. To learn what can be recycled, Hoover suggests that people visit the websites of drop-off locations.

  1. A cardboard box and folder
    cardboard package with the Amazon logo.
    Recycling a cardboard package from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    a cardboard folder with the Amazon logo.
    cardboard folder from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    According to Amazon’s website, cardboard boxes and folders may be recycled at most curbside recycling facilities. Additionally, it advises removing all tape before discarding.

However, Hoover advises that you check with your local authorities to find out what is recyclable and whether or not you need to prepare these things in a certain manner.

For instance, New York City suggests that before placing cardboard boxes out for recycling, consumers should flatten them first and tie them together with sturdy string.

You may begin composting by using your cardboard boxes.

Fourth, Paper Envelope
a stack of paper envelopes with the Amazon logo.
a paper envelope from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
According to Amazon, the majority of curbside recycling services accept paper envelopes.

  1. Give Back Box collaboration (for cardboard boxes)
    cardboard package with the Amazon logo.
    Donating your items in the cardboard box you received from Amazon will give it new life. Source: AMAZON
    You may also give an additional box a second chance if you have one laying around. Simply pack a box with the goods you want to give, print up a free shipping label, and send it free of charge to you through UPS or USPS. Through Amazon’s relationship with Give Back Box, your used items will be rehomed to charity, and you may deduct the gift from your taxes.

Six. Box paper
brown packing paper that has been crumpled.
Brown packing paper from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
Packing paper is recyclable via most curbside recycling programs, Amazon notes on its website.

  1. Air cushion
    a full air-filled bag made of white plastic.
    Air cushion from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    If feasible, Amazon advises recycling its air pillows at the curb; otherwise, look for a drop-off facility that will take them. Air cushions include plastic film, making the package less recyclable than Amazon’s plastic bags.

Hoover advises blowing the air out of the pillow before taking it to a drop-off facility when you are eligible to recycle them.

  1. Paper mailer with bubbles
    An Amazon bubble-lined paper envelope from two viewpoints.
    The bubble-lined paper mailer from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    According to Amazon’s website, paper mailers with air bubble cushioning are not recyclable and should be thrown out. Amazon does not clarify what they mean when they suggest that you may check with your local recycling program for further information.

For his part, Pinsky suggests discarding these mailers.

  1. Personalized gift boxes
    Several different-patterned, multicolored Amazon gift bags.
    Reusable gift bags from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    Amazon encourages you to reuse these gift bags, as you may have guessed from the name. However, once they’re not presentable anymore, you’ll have to throw them in the trash.

Pinsky suggests completely avoiding these gift bags. The majority of the bags will be destroyed by incinerators, landfills, and the environment.

Instead, he advises, “think of more innovative methods to distribute presents that don’t use paper, plastic bags, or other disposable materials.”

  1. Reusable present bags made entirely of recyclable materials
    a bigger collection of variously patterned, multicolored Amazon gift bags.
    Reusable gift bags from Amazon are made entirely of recyclable materials. Source: AMAZON
    Even if this gift bag outperforms Amazon’s reusable gift bag, you still have to throw it away after you’re done with it.

Pinsky praises the fact that this version is created entirely of recycled materials, but the outcome is the same still.

“While using recycled materials rather of virgin plastics for its gift bags is preferable for Amazon, these bags will nevertheless ultimately wind up in landfills, incinerators, our communities, and the environment. According to Pinsky, Amazon has to improve, stop using single-use plastic packaging, and switch to reusing and refilling methods.

  1. Gel pack from Prime Now
    a gel-filled blue plastic bag.
    Gel pack for Prime Now from Amazon. Source: AMAZON
    According to Amazon’s website, gel packs should be thrown away since they are not recyclable.
  2. Amazon Fresh plastic sheet for dry ice
    a red plastic film piece.
    Film made using dry ice from Amazon Fresh. Source: Amazon
    The dry ice cubes used to maintain the proper temperature for Amazon Fresh foods are covered by this plastic covering. According to Amazon’s website, it cannot be recycled.
  3. Amazon Fresh Paper Bag and Prime Now Paper Bag
    a paper bag that has the “Prime Now” emblem.
    Several of the paper bags that Amazon sells may be recycled. Source: Amazon
    a handle-equipped brown paper bag with the “Amazon Fresh” emblem.
    Fresh paper bag from Amazon. Source: Amazon
    The majority of curbside recycling systems accept Amazon’s Fresh Paper Bags and Prime Now bags since they are made of paper.
  4. Insulated pouch from Prime Now
    a white plastic bag with a fiber pad inside.
    Insulated pouch from Prime Now on Amazon. Source: Amazon
    The insulated pouches from Amazon’s Prime Now are difficult to recycle. The insulating pad should first be taken out of the plastic mailer, according to Amazon, then sliced apart to remove the plastic film. Then it states that you may recycle the plastic mailer and film using #4 plastic and the natural fiber pad using #60 cotton.

Hoover noted in an email that Amazon should specify #4 film plastic rather than #4 plastic on its website since many curbside services accept hard #4 plastic but won’t accept any film plastics.

  1. Amazon Fresh bottle of water
    a plastic water bottle without a logo.
    bottle of Amazon Fresh water. Source: Amazon
    This is only a water bottle, therefore most curbside recycling programs accept it. These water bottles are used to chill objects like food, according to Amazon’s website, but you can also drink the water, so don’t throw it away.
  2. Insulation foil bubble bag
    a bag wrapped with silver foil.
    Foil bubble insulation bag from Amazon. Source: Amazon
    According to Amazon, foil insulation should not be recycled and should be disposed of.
  3. Fresh Cardboard Box from Amazon
    a cardboard container with the “Amazon Fresh” branding and only one handle.
    Fresh cardboard box from Amazon. Source: Amazon
    Like Amazon’s Prime Now and Fresh Paper Bag, the Amazon Fresh Cardboard Box can be recycled, however according to Amazon’s website, you need remove the tape first.
  4. Dry ice packet from Amazon Fresh
    a white plastic bag with two caution signs in red on it.
    a packet of Amazon Fresh dry ice. Source: Amazon
    You must throw away the Amazon Fresh dry ice pouch since it cannot be recycled.

Produce bag, 19
a knotted transparent plastic bag with the top closed.
a vegetable bag from Amazon. Source: Amazon
Again, since the product comprises plastic film, recycling may be challenging because the film often becomes trapped in the equipment at recycling facilities. When curbside recycling is not available, Amazon says you may “use approved store drop-off sites where plastic film is accepted.” However, some towns allow curbside recycling for its produce bags.

It is good to first find out where you can recycle it. To achieve this, Amazon has a webpage. However, Pinsky advises doing your own research and asking local grocer whether they accept the video.

  1. Bottom board and insulation made of paper
    An picture of the Amazon recycling logo up close.
    Internal packaging from Amazon is also recyclable. Source: Amazon
    a creased sheet of insulation made of brown paper.
    Paper insulation from Amazon. Source: Amazon
    Both items are entirely constructed of cardboard. So, according to Amazon, you may recycle both of them via your curbside recycling program.

Oct. 10, 9:56 a.m. EST (UPDATE) This story has been updated and republished to reflect some of Amazon’s more recent sustainability initiatives, statistics on how much packaging material the company has eliminated, information on how to access Amazon’s recycling and disposal guidelines, new comments and an updated quote from Greenpeace expert David Pinsky on both plastic film and Amazon’s readily available recycling and disposal guidelines, as well as packaging alternatives not covered in the original article.