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.
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.
— Toby Porter (@tobyhporter) August 21, 2019
Hey @amazon – sort out your packaging! Non-recyclable plastic bags and padded envelopes. Really? That's irresponsible and just lazy. And the same goes for the massive boxes with a packet of batteries inside. Plain daft! You should be at the forefront of this. Instead be ashamed.
— Readie (@SteveReadie) August 21, 2019
.@amazon can you please not use the new plastic packaging which is not recyclable in the UK (I do not know about other countries). This is a backward step in plastic pollution and Amazon should be taking a lead on eradicating the use of such a product #waronplastic
— The Democratic Socialist (@DavidACAtHome) August 20, 2019
“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.”