Amazon Replaces Plastic Air Pillows With Paper Filler

Amazon.com, Inc. said it has replaced 95% of the plastic air pillows from delivery packaging in North America with paper filler, and expects to reach to the full removal by the end of fiscal 2024. Nearly all of customer deliveries for Prime Day this year will not contain plastic air pillows, the firm noted.

In a statement, the company said, “We’re constantly inventing and thinking big to make our packaging small. We want to ensure that customers receive their items undamaged, while using as little packaging as possible to avoid waste, and prioritizing recyclable materials.”

The e-commerce giant’s largest plastic packaging reduction effort in the region is projected to avoid nearly 15 billion plastic air pillows annually.

The firm’s multi-year effort to remove plastic delivery packaging from fulfillment centers, including the transition from plastic air pillows to paper filler, was initiated in October 2023 at its first U.S. automated fulfillment center in Ohio.

As per the company testing, which also included an assessment by a third-party engineer lab, paper filler offers the same, if not better, protection to products than plastic air pillows. The paper filler is also curbside recyclable, making it easier for customers to recycle at home, and made from 100% percent recycled content.

In order to achieve the transitioning for 95% of shipments in less than a year, Amazon coordinated across hundreds of fulfillment centers, and collaborated with suppliers to source paper filler made from 100% recycled content.

The firm also worked with thousands of employees to change its machinery as well as to host employee trainings for these new systems and machines.

The move is part of its ongoing investment in reducing packaging and increasing curbside recyclability across all of its operations. In 2022, 11% of all packages shipped by Amazon globally were without added Amazon delivery packaging through Ships in Product Packaging program.

Amazon recently teamed up with the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its efforts to invent new materials and recycling solutions.

The company is also piloting new technology with Glacier, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence or AI and robotics company, to use AI-powered robots to automate the sorting of recyclables and collect real-time data on recycling streams for companies. This will help reduce landfill waste and increase the use of recycled materials in packaging.

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