Amazon is getting rid of plastic air pillows in North America

Amazon is getting rid of plastic air pillows in North America

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The e-commerce giant says it has already replaced 95 percent of plastic air packaging with fully recyclable paper filler.

Image: Amazon

Amazon is on track to fully remove plastic air pillows from its delivery packaging in North America. On Thursday, the company announced that it has replaced 95 percent of plastic air pillows with paper filler, and it plans to stop using plastic air packaging by the end of this year.

This change will eliminate almost 15 billion plastic air pillows annually, according to Amazon. Unlike the old packaging, paper filler is made with 100 percent recycled content, which should allow customers to easily recycle the material at home. Amazon says the paper filler “offers the same, if not better, protection.”

Despite switching from single-use plastic delivery bags in Europe and India as well as using made-to-fit paper packaging in Australia and Japan, Amazon has been slow to make the transition to paper in the US. Last year, Amazon ditched plastic packaging at a warehouse in Ohio, replacing plastic bubble mailers and air pillows with recyclable paper packaging.

A photo showing one package with plastic air pillows on the left and another with paper filler on the right

A photo showing one package with plastic air pillows on the left and another with paper filler on the right

Image: Amazon

A recent report from the nonprofit conservation organization Oceana estimates that the company generated 208 million pounds of plastic waste from its packaging in the US in 2022. Even though Oceana welcomes Amazon’s commitment to do away with plastic air pillows in North America, it acknowledges that there’s still more work to be done.

“While this is a significant step forward for the company, Amazon needs to build on this momentum and fulfill its multiyear commitment to transition its North America fulfillment centers away from plastic,” Matt Littlejohn, Oceana’s senior vice president of strategic initiative, says in a statement. The organization would like to see Amazon phase out single-use plastic packaging “everywhere it sells and ships.”

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Emma Roth

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