Amazon faces backlash over single-use plastic packaging

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While the rest of the world is starting to succumb to the popular pro-environment sentiments, Amazon, on the other hand, started using single-use plastic envelopes that are not recyclable. As expected, the tech and e-commerce giant received backlash, not only from environmental advocates but also from their most loyal customers.

Amazon came under fire for their decision to use single-use plastic as envelopes for the parcels they deliver to their customers — a move that some customers are saying is a “major step backward.” Complaints against Amazon were hurled after they started using small plastic containers in an effort to allow more parcels to be loaded in a delivery truck. Customers say that the decision feels more like a move to save money.

Amazon’s use of single-use plastic is “madness”

“My husband is disabled, and we rely a lot on Amazon and other home deliveries. Previously our small orders arrived in easily recyclable cardboard packaging, but a few months ago, Amazon started using plastic envelopes. I diligently recycle all the packaging but can’t these,” Adrian Fletcher, one of Amazon’s customer who complained about the use of single-use plastic as packaging.

Fletcher also highlighted the fact that many supermarket chains are already changing their ways, but Amazon still continues on doing something that is not sustainable. He even called the company’s lack of sustainable evolution as a “madness.”

“The supermarkets have all been dropping carrier bags from their online deliveries, but Amazon is going the other way – ‘it’s madness. I have asked them not to ship my orders using plastic packaging, but this falls on deaf ears.”

Amidst the complaints and the backlash, the world’s biggest online retailer appears to be aware that their packaging is not widely recycled. ‘Amazon’s Second Chance website, where the company provides suggestions and tips on how users can recycle their packaging, even admits that the Prime-branded envelopes are “not widely recycled across the UK.”

For a company that ships more than 4bn and 5bn parcels every year to different countries around the world, an earlier report reveals that the new plastic envelope packaging from Amazon is clogging up recycling centers in the United States. They blamed customers for the issue as customers fail to correctly segregate the plastic envelope and drop in the right garbage can.

On Monday, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, signed an agreement among 181 companies across the United States to redefine corporate purpose. The agreement aims to renew corporate social responsibility and realign purpose from the age-old money-making to embracing the interests of other stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and the community.

For the last decade, calls against capitalism and how corporations are blamed for a wide range of social issues has had many multinational companies shifting into sustainable development and the agreement marks the renewed commitment of corporate America to “sustainable practices.”

The fight for environmental sustainability continues

However, climate warriors and environmental activists still fight a long battle against corporations for sustainable development. Mike Childs, the head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said: “Despite the huge public outcry, it’s astonishing how many companies are still using single-trip, unrecyclable plastic for deliveries.”

“If we want to stem the tide of plastic pollution blighting our environment, giant firms like Amazon have to find ways of making deliveries in returnable and reusable packaging. And if they won’t – the government should make them.”

British environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, has recently pronounced that the society “was calling time on being “throwaway” following a report revealing that the sales of single-use plastic drastically went down throughout the years.

Results from the study published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs revealed that the number of single-use plastic in major supermarket chains has fallen by more than 90% since the introduction of the 5p charge in October 2015.

As a response to the growing backlash, Amazon said that they are working to improve their packaging design in order to serve sustainable service to their customers.

Our mission is to deliver the very best customer experience. We work with manufacturers worldwide to continuously improve packaging design and introduce new, sustainable packaging that delights customers, eliminates waste and ensures products arrive intact and undamaged for our customers,” Amazon said in a statement.

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