Last year, Amazon reported the online shopping giant was on track to deliver 3.5 billion (with a B!) packages via its last-mile delivery network — which means almost 10 million packages daily. Think about all that cardboard waste! Amazon is one of the largest (and most convenient) retailers to get any shopping done, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, when many of us are finding ourselves sheltering in place at home.
While Amazon does provide an easy way to do the shopping and offers nearly anything you could think of to purchase, with so many people ordering, it’s a drain on our resources. Every cardboard box, every bubble wrapping, and every plastic mailer you receive is just one of the millions being distributed around the world. All of these materials could end up in landfills when not properly disposed of or reused.
It’s more important than ever to reduce cardboard waste as it will help lessen the number of deliveries being made and putting Amazon workers at risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s also risky to keep large amounts of cardboard waste in your home due to the possibility of contamination from COVID-19. Scientists are now saying that the new coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, so it's best to keep it minimal in your home.
While shopping local with reusable bags is the biggest way to cut down on packaging waste from e-retailers, here are some other really simple ways to minimize your packaging waste from Amazon.
Consolidate Your Orders
This is probably the easiest way to reduce waste from Amazon orders. Amazon allows shoppers to consolidate items from multiple retailers and orders and have them combined into the same package. This will help reduce the use of packaging materials.
All the orders will need to be placed on the same Amazon account and shipped to the same address obviously. It is also helpful to order items that are fulfilled by Amazon, rather than third party retailers. This way, you know your items are being packed and shipped from the same Amazon fulfillment center.
Schedule a Delivery Date
As an Amazon Prime member, there is the option to schedule a delivery date for your packages. This is an easy way to consolidate your items and help reduce multiple packages coming to your door.
Amazon Prime allows shoppers to have a quick one or two-day shipment, which is tempting to not take advantage of, but taking advantage of this Amazon Day can make a real impact on the environment. You need to reserve a delivery date at least two days in advance of your order, so keep that in mind while shopping.
Order Using Recyclable Packaging
Another option for Amazon shoppers is its “Frustration-Free Packaging” program. The company will ship certain products to shoppers in recyclable packaging. Instead of a traditional Amazon package with bubble-wrap, plastic, and smaller cardboard boxes within larger cardboard boxes, a shopper who uses Frustration-Free Packaging will receive items in a smaller, recyclable box.
Amazon has an entire list of items they sell that are perfect for being shipped with Frustration-Free Packaging, which right now includes more than one million items. In a statement to Green Matters, the company explained that FFP has eliminated more than 810,000 tons of packaging materials (the equivalent of 1.4 billion shipping boxes) by promoting "easy-to-open, recyclable packaging and shipping products in their own packages without any shipping boxes."
As of 2019, the program was responsible for a reduction of packaging weight by 27 percent — and more changes are coming.
"We have converted 90 percent of our mixed material packaging to single-stream packaging that allows for easier recyclability, and expect to be fully converted by early 2021," the company said. "For example, in 2019, we introduced a new paper padded mailer that is fully recyclable curbside. To date, more than 130 million of the new mailers have been shipped to customers, reducing waste, saving fuel, and offering the same recyclability as Amazon's iconic box, without taking up nearly as much space in a recycling bin. In 2020, we will continue to scale."
Learn How to Properly Recycle Your Packaging
While there’s plenty that you can do before you hit order, you also have to make sure you properly dispose of the materials once you have them. On the homepage for the Amazon Second Chance program, the company offers a step-by-step guide on how to properly recycle, or otherwise dispose of, their various packaging materials in order to take the guesswork out of the disposal.
If getting to recycling isn’t feasible with the current lockdowns in place, and you don’t have curbside recycling, you can always creatively upcycle your Amazon boxes and packages in your home.