Bubble Wrap & Our Future

It is not light reading. Nor short. But before you order anything else on Amazon you might want to at least skim this report:

Executive Summary

Amazon has a plastic problem. Oceana analyzed e-commerce and packaging market data1 as well as a recent scientific report, published in Science about predicted growth in plastic waste, that projects plastic pollution of aquatic ecosystems by country2 and found that Amazon has a large and rapidly growing plastic pollution footprint. E-commerce plastic packaging becomes plastic waste immediately after a package is opened and almost all plastic waste is landfilled, burned,3 or enters and pollutes the environment including waterways and oceans4 , where plastic can harm marine life5. Amazon should listen to its customers and offer plastic-free shipping options. Customer surveys sponsored by Oceana found an overwhelming concern about plastic pollution’s impact on the ocean and a desire for Amazon and other e-commerce companies to use less plastic packaging. Oceana calls on the company to report on and to take immediate steps to reduce its plastic use.

In 2019, according to Oceana’s analysis, explained in detail on page 12, Amazon generated an estimated 465 million pounds, or 211 million kilograms (kg), of plastic packaging.

This is the plastic used to ship purchases made on Amazon and includes air pillows or bubble wrap to prevent products from moving within a package, and plastic mailers or plastic-lined paper envelopes to ship smaller products. Amazon packages can be double-packed, with the original product, already packaged, surrounded with plastic filling and an outer Amazon box.

According to news reports, Amazon shipped over 7 billion packages in 2019 – roughly one for every person on the planet.6 The company uses so much plastic packaging that it would circle around the Earth more than 500 times if expressed in the form of e-commerce’s ubiquitous air pillows.7

Based on data derived from the scientific report about plastic pollution of aquatic ecosystems,8 Oceana estimates that in 2019, up to 22.44 million pounds (10.18 million kg) of Amazon’s plastic packaging has ended up in the world’s freshwater and marine ecosystems as pollution.9 This amount is roughly equivalent to a delivery van’s worth of plastic being dumped into major rivers, lakes, and the oceans every 70 minutes.10…

Read the report here.

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