Good news for the oceans: Amazon single-use plastic packaging declines by over 11% in one year
World’s largest retailer makes significant commitment to reduce plastic: will phase-out use of iconic blue and white and other plastic mailers
Press Release Date: July 19, 2023
Location: Washington, DC
Anna Baxter, Gillian Spolarich | email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Baxter, 202-467-1909
Marking a victory for the oceans, Amazon announced yesterday in its 2022 sustainability report that its overall 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 company reported that it used a total of 85,916 metric tons (189 million pounds) of single-use plastic to ship its packages in 2022, down from 97,222 metric tons (214 million pounds) of single-use plastic packaging in 2021. This number excludes shipments for products bought through Amazon’s websites that are not fulfilled by the company.
Additionally, the company noted that it is “phasing out padded bags containing plastics in favor of recyclable alternatives.” This means that Amazon will also replace its ubiquitous blue and white plastic mailer, which is not accepted by most curbside recycling programs, in favor of other alternatives (including lightweight paper-padded mailers). According to the report, the company has already replaced 99% of mixed-material mailers containing plastic in the United States and Canada with recyclable paper alternatives.
Amazon’s decision to phase out padded bags containing plastics will have a significant impact on reducing the company’s plastic footprint given that pouches and bags represent over 30% of e-commerce plastic packaging globally. To date, Amazon has moved away from plastic packaging in most of its major markets including Europe, India, Japan, and Australia, but had yet to make a significant commitment to reduce plastic packaging in the United States or on a global basis.
“If Amazon follows through, this is good news for the oceans,” said Matt Littlejohn, Senior Vice President of Oceana. “The world’s largest retailer is now using less single-use plastic and has just committed to phase out padded bags containing plastic globally. Given the extensive use of this type of packaging and Amazon’s additional plastic reductions made in major markets outside the United States, this effectively means that the company will significantly reduce its plastic use as called for by the company’s shareholders. The company should also commit to a phase-out deadline and make an explicit commitment to reduce all of its plastic packaging in addition to padded mailers but this is real progress and will mean that much less single-use plastic will find its way into the world’s seas.”
Oceana has advocated for Amazon to reduce its plastic packaging use since 2020, releasing reports estimating the company’s plastic footprint and directly advocating with the company to commit to reducing single-use plastic. Oceana also campaigned at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle and Arlington, VA (and on Wall Street) in support of a shareholder resolution (filed by As You Sow and supported by others from the Break Free From Plastic movement) calling on the company to reduce its plastic packaging use by one-third.
The world’s oceans are being devastated by plastic, including the type of plastic used in Amazon’s packaging. Studies have estimated that individuals from 55% of seabird species, 70% of marine mammal species, and 100% of sea turtle species have ingested or become entangled in plastic. Amazon’s plastic packaging is made from the most common form of marine plastic litter in nearshore ocean areas — plastic film — which is the deadliest type of plastic to marine animals.
“We will monitor Amazon’s developments going forward to ensure the company continues to disclose a shrinking plastic packaging footprint,” added Littlejohn, “but this progress and commitment is a real win for all the shareholders, employees, citizens, and members of the Break Free From Plastic movement who called for the company to move away from single-use plastic.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org to learn more.