Amazon’s new non-recyclable plastic packaging “major step backwards”

Amazon’s new plastic packaging has caused outrage among customers and environmental activists who’ve branded it “major step backwards”.

New padded plastic envelopes used to package smaller items are not “widely recycled across the UK” according to Amazon’s own Second Chance website, and have replaced previous cardboard packaging in order to save space.

The Amazon Prime-branded envelopes, called Smarpacs, were reported by the Washington Post in February to be clogging up recycling plants as consumers were wrongly placing them in recycling bins.

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Globally Amazon is thought to package and ship between 4 and 5 billion items every year.

A spokesperson for the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) said there was little reason to replace the previous recyclable packaging with the new plastic envelopes.

“Not only is paper and cardboard a uniquely renewable, recyclable and re-usable resource, it’s also strong and flexible enough to keep goods safe while in transit making it the perfect packaging material.

“Many supermarkets, shops on the high street and online retailers have been making the switch from plastic to cardboard for their packaging recently and it’s a trend we would like to see continue.”

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs added: “Despite the huge public outcry, it’s astonishing how many companies are still using single-trip, unrecyclable plastic for deliveries.

“If we want to stem the tide of plastic pollution blighting our environment, giant firms like Amazon have to find ways of making deliveries in returnable and reusable packaging. And if they won’t – the government should make them.”

In response an Amazon spokesperson said: “Over the past 10 years, our sustainable packaging initiatives have eliminated more than 244,000 tons of packaging materials, avoiding 500 million shipping boxes.

“SmartPac mailers are kerbside recyclable in some cities, and in all store drop-off locations.”

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