Study Finds Amazon Generated 465M Pounds of Plastic Waste in 2019

Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, generated 465 million pounds of plastic waste in 2019, according to a study published by the environmental nonprofit Oceana. The waste is a combination of the plastic air pillows, bubble wrap, and other plastic packaging included in the estimated 7 billion Amazon packages delivered that year.

The report found that Amazon's plastic air pillow waste, which often accompanies packages, alone could wrap around the earth more than 500 times. The study estimates that up to 22.44 million pounds of Amazon's plastic waste polluted the world's freshwater and marine ecosystems in 2019.

Amazon has fiercely denied Oceana's claims, saying the report overstated the amount of plastic waste the company produces by more than 350%, which would still be approximately 132M pounds of plastic.

Amazon is developing new recycling infrastructure, according to its website. The retailer hopes to achieve net zero carbon shipments, with 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030. To mitigate its plastic film waste, the retailer is planning to launch plastic film recycling at more than 55 of its fulfillment centers. Amazon claims this development will result in the recycling of more than 7,000 tons of plastic film per year. The company also launched a fully recyclable paper-padded mailer. However, according to the Oceana report, the damage has been done, and it's unclear if Amazon's recent steps to manage waste are big enough improvements.

Oceana Senior Vice President Matt Littlejohn noted, 'Our study found that the plastic packaging and waste generated by Amazon's packages is mostly destined, not for recycling, but for the landfill, the incinerator, or the environment including, unfortunately, our waterways and sea, where plastic can harm marine life. It's time for Amazon to listen to its customers, who, according to recent surveys want plastic-free alternatives, and make real commitments to reduce its plastic footprint.'