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Amazon Sparks Frustrations After Making Recyclable Packaging Less Eco-Friendly
By Mikelle Leow, 21 Aug 2019
Image via PippiLongstocking / Shutterstock.com
If you’re an avid Amazon Prime shopper, you might have noticed that the online marketplace started swapping some of its cardboard boxes for plastic mailers. Amazon explains that the lightweight packaging allows it to fit more parcels in its trucks and planes.
Unfortunately, some customers and environmental activists are shunning the introduction of the plastic wrappers, as while the cardboard boxes are easily recyclable in curbside bins, the flatter envelopes are not.
Adrian Fletcher, a customer from Glasgow, Scotland, says the move is a “major step backwards” for the world’s largest online retailer. He completes much of his shopping on the platform as his husband is disabled, and while he diligently [recycles]” packaging, he tells the Guardian that he “can’t [with] these.” Requests to deliver with non-plastic mailers have “[fallen] on deaf ears,” Fletcher adds.
In February, the Washington Post reported that Amazon’s plastic films were “jamming up” recycling centers in the US as customers were mistakenly disposing them in recycling bins.
Lisa Sepanski, project manager for King County Solid Waste Division, detailed that, like plastic bags, the mailers could not be sorted into recycling systems, and often clogged up the station’s equipment, which forced employees to eject the plastic wrappers themselves.
The plastic mailers not only have to be recycled separately, but when accidentally tossed into the usual recycling system, they’ll also stall other materials from undergoing the process, the Post described. However, Amazon explains that recycling information for various packaging types can be found on its website.
While the plastic envelopes aren’t as easily recyclable, some waste experts believe there’s a silver lining to downsizing bulky parcels.
The new mailers take up less space in delivery vehicles, said David Allaway, senior policy analyst at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Materials Management Program, and in turn reduce the consumption of petroleum and greenhouse gases being emitted. For a company that sends out approximately four to five billion packages each year, that’s a lot less trucks hitting the road.
[via The Guardian, cover image via PippiLongstocking / Shutterstock.com]
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