- Amazon used nearly 86,000 tons of single-use plastic packaging last year, an 11.6% drop.
- The company is using more materials like paper as part of its sustainability efforts.
- Amazon aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
Now part of your Amazon delivery: less plastic.
The e-commerce giant said it used nearly 86,000 tons of single-use plastic to send orders to customers around the globe last year. That’s 11.6% less than in 2021. Amazon is also ditching its blue and white padded plastic mailers in favor of easier-to-recycle paper packaging.
The numbers on plastic, released Tuesday, came in Amazon’s latest sustainability report that tracks the company’s progress toward its climate and social goals. Amazon aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 — even as the company plans to boost sales — by powering its operations with renewable energy, shifting to electric delivery vehicles, using recyclable packaging, and minimizing waste, among other initiatives.
Amazon didn’t start reporting how much plastic is used in the billions of packages it ships until December 2022. That followed years of pressure from environmental groups and investors concerned about a growing amount of plastic pollution threatening oceans, wildlife, and people’s health. Only about 9% of the world’s plastic gets recycled; much of the rest piles up in landfills, is burned, or leaches into waterways.
Matt Littlejohn, senior vice president of the conservation group Oceana, said Amazon’s latest progress and commitment to phase out plastic-padded mailers is a “real win” and will mean less waste ends up in the world’s seas.
“We will monitor Amazon’s developments going forward to ensure the company continues to disclose a shrinking plastic packaging footprint,” Littlejohn said in a statement.
Oceana for several years has tried to put numbers on how much plastic Amazon is using. The company has described those estimates as inaccurate and exaggerated. Oceana’s analysis for 2021 found Amazon used about 709 million pounds of plastic packaging — some 355,000 tons.
Oceana said its estimates are higher than Amazon’s data because the company doesn’t account for orders sent by third-party sellers. Amazon’s data reflects orders shipped through its own fulfillment centers and through its grocery business.
Amazon said it used less plastic in 2022 by expanding packaging made with recyclable paper across the US, Canada, and Europe. The company also eliminated plastic air pillows in Europe and Australia.
The company’s overall carbon footprint slipped by 0.4% from 2021 to 2022, although it was still higher than in 2019, the first year for which Amazon reported its emissions. Amazon emitted 71 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year. In 2019, emissions came to 51 million metric tons.