6 January 2021
COVID-19 resulted in an unprecedented increase in orders on the internet over the past year. Sales platforms often pack an already packaged product again, for example, in air cushion envelopes. As a result, the use of plastic in the e-commerce sector has increased significantly.
Anyone buying from Amazon, the largest e-commerce company globally, does not have the option of having ordered products delivered without plastic packaging. That option must be put in place quickly.
ENOUGH PLASTIC TO WRAP THE WORLD AROUND 500 TIMES
Amazon’s turnover grew by more than 30% due to the pandemic in 2020. In 2019, even before the corona epidemic, Amazon used 211 million kilos of packaging plastic for shipments to 130 countries. The American NGO Oceana estimates that more than 10 million kilos of this ended up in the environment.
If that 211 million kilos of plastic consisted of one long string of air-cushion film, you could wrap the world with it 500 times. Oceana calculates this in its recently published report Amazon’s Plastic Problem Revealed. Amazon states in a reaction that the calculation is incorrect.
AMAZON USES EVEN MORE PLASTIC… TO ACHIEVE ENVIRONMENTAL TARGETS
Amazon, which also opened a webshop in the Netherlands in March 2020, is replacing traditional packaging materials such as paper and cardboard with lightweight plastic to achieve climate targets. Since 2015, this has already saved 33% of packaging weight. Plastic is also suitable to protect products from damage.
A striking detail is that Amazon does not write anything about the disadvantages of plastic in its international sustainability report.
Nor does the company give a definitive answer about the total amount of plastic used, Amazon’s plastic footprint. It does say, however, that Amazon promotes the recycling of plastic packaging. The widely used plastic (air cushion) film has hardly any recycling value and is, in reality, dumped, incinerated, or left behind.
‘AMAZON GO PLASTIC FREE’
Oceana asked Amazon customers in the US, Canada, and the UK for their opinion:
- 86% worried about plastic contamination
- 92% are outraged that in practice, plastic packaging is hardly recycled, if at all.
- 87% believe that large sales platforms should offer customers the opportunity to opt for plastic-free delivery.
E-COMMERCE MUST TAKE ITS RESPONSIBILITY
Oceana calls on the fast-growing e-commerce sector to embrace a strict plastics policy that includes at least the following action points:
- drastically reduce the use of plastic
- promoting the reuse of plastic (containers)
- offer at least plastic-free shipping options- full transparency on plastic use (plastic footprint).
PLASTIC-FREE DELIVERY OF PLASTIC-FREE PRODUCTS
There are a few small players in the Netherlands who are already putting these action points into practice. They even go one step further: the plastic-free delivery of plastic-free products.
- At Fentestik.nl, you can order boxes for bathroom and kitchen items.
- ZustainaBox has surprise packages with items for daily use.
- Pieter Pot delivers food in glass deposit boxes. The empty pots are refilled.
These companies show what is possible. However, it is the big players who have to make a difference. Companies like Amazon, Alibaba, or Bol.com control the chain from producer to customer. This position makes it possible to realize the transition to plastic-free delivery quickly.
SIGN THE PETITION
On the petition site, Change.org, more than 700,000 people have already called on Amazon to give customers a choice of products without plastic packaging. In India, Amazon shows that this is possible.
We say: do it!
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