So long plastic air pillows: Amazon shifting to recycled paper filling for packages in North America

So long plastic air pillows: Amazon shifting to recycled paper filling for packages in North America
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Amazon is switching from the plastic bubbles used for packaging in North America to recycled paper because it is more environmentally friendly and because paper simply works better.

The company said Thursday that it has already replaced 95% of plastic inflatables with paper filler in North America and aims to eliminate them completely by the end of the year.

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“We want to ensure that customers receive their items undamaged, while using as little packaging as possible to avoid waste, and prioritizing recyclable materials,” Amazon said.

It is the company’s largest plastic packaging reduction effort to date in North America and will eliminate nearly 15 billion plastic inflatables from use annually.

Almost all customer deliveries for First day This year, which happens next month, according to Amazon, plastic will not contain air cushions.

Amazon began transitioning away from plastic inflatables at an automated fulfillment center in Ohio in October. The company said it could test and learn there at the center, allowing it to quickly transition to filling recycled paper.

The transition process included changing machines and training employees on new systems and machines.

Amazon found through testing that the paper filler, which is made from 100% recyclable material and is recyclable, provides the same if not better protection during shipping compared to plastic bubbles, the company said.

Christian Garcia, who works at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bakersfield, California, said in a news release that the paper filler is easier to work with and the machines give staff more space, making it easier to pack orders.

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Ongoing efforts to reduce waste include a campaign to ship items without additional packaging, the company said. In 2022, 11% of all Amazon packages shipped worldwide were without added delivery packaging.

Other efforts include testing new technology with artificial intelligence and robotics company Glacier to use AI-powered robots to automate the sorting of recyclables and collect real-time data on recycling streams for businesses. It also works with the U.S. Department of Energy on new materials and recycling programs.

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