Amazon’s plastic waste surges by a third during pandemic

Amazon’s plastic packaging increased by almost a third, to 270,000 tonnes, during the pandemic last year, according to a new report from marine conservation group Oceana.

The research reveals that an estimated 10,700 tonnes of plastic from the ecommerce giant, including plastic-lined paper envelopes, bubble wrap and air pillows, the equivalent of a delivery van’s worth every 67 minutes, will end up in the sea.

Despite Amazon’s recycling pledges and its Second Chance recycling website, the conservation group concluded that these efforts “will not significantly reduce its enormous (and growing) plastic footprint.”

In addition, Oceana revealed that almost 75% of Amazon Prime customers in the UK and US, whether knowingly or not, sent plastic packaging to landfill.

Nearly 40% put it in recycling bins, where plastic film would still end up in landfill and 35% put the plastic in the bin.

Almost 20% of customers added that they reused the plastic, while 5% said they disposed of the packaging in Amazon’s recycling programme drop-off bins, seen on the Second Chance website.

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“We are using the best data available to us. If Amazon was transparent, we would gladly use their data. Yes, they are using more non-plastic packaging, but they are also selling a ton more product.” Oceana senior vice president Matt Littlejohn told The Guardian.

“We understand people need Amazon. And so we’re hoping Amazon can fix this problem and become a leader in reducing plastic, which is really important for the oceans.”

Amazon has rejected Oceana’s findings, insisting that it had overestimated the plastic waste by 300%.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Guardian: “Amazon shares Oceana’s ambition to protect the world’s oceans and respects their work but, for a second year, their calculations are seriously flawed. They have overestimated our plastics usage by more than 300%, and use outdated assumptions about the sources of plastic waste entering our oceans.”

IndustrySustainability

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