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Amazon's Packaging Practices Face Examination


Despite global efforts to cut down on plastic packaging waste by 11.6% in 2022, a new report from the American conservation organization, Oceana, shows that Amazon's plastic packaging use in the United States has surged by nearly 10%. Oceana's findings suggest that Amazon was responsible for producing over 208 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in the country during the year.


Oceana's senior vice president for strategic initiatives, Matt Littlejohn, expressed concern over Amazon's increasing plastic use in the U.S., pointing out the company's success in reducing plastic packaging in other key markets such as India and Europe. Littlejohn questioned why American consumers were not seeing the same efforts to diminish plastic usage.


Oceana is challenging Amazon to commit to significant environmental changes, advocating for the elimination of plastic packaging in the U.S. and setting a target to cut down its plastic usage company-wide by a minimum of one-third by 2030.


Amazon, however, disputes Oceana's claims, labeling the report as inaccurate. Although the retail giant has countered these allegations, it has not disclosed any detailed data on the volume of plastic waste its U.S. operations contribute.


Pat Lindner, Amazon's Vice President of Mechatronics and Sustainable Packaging, highlighted the company's dedication to minimizing or entirely removing packaging, particularly single-use plastics. Lindner pointed out Amazon's effort to provide regular and transparent updates on its journey towards sustainability.


The impact of Amazon's plastic packaging isn't just a domestic issue but has global ramifications. According to Oceana's research, the plastic waste from Amazon in the U.S. alone could wrap around the Earth over 200 times. It's estimated that up to 22 million pounds of this waste finds its way into rivers, lakes, and oceans each year, endangering aquatic life. This environmental concern has attracted attention not just from environmental organizations but also from Amazon's own shareholders. In a recent submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission, they urged the company's board to investigate how to achieve a one-third reduction in plastic use, echoing the suggestions of a Pew study.


In response to these concerns, Amazon has made significant environmental strides in Europe by switching from single-use plastic to fully recyclable materials like paper and cardboard. The company has also started a long-term project aimed at removing plastic delivery packaging from its automated fulfillment centers in the U.S. These steps show Amazon's acknowledgment of the problem and its intent to find solutions, though debates over the effectiveness and speed of these actions continue.

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