Amazon UK will no longer use plastic

April 5, 2022 by
Frank Calviño
Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash

Amazon UK has announced that it will no longer pack its products in single-use plastic delivery bags. The UK Amazon branch will begin to use recyclable paper and cardboard delivery boxes and bags in a bet for a more clean and sustainable future.

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Currently, the company holds up to 20 warehouses in the UK, counting both the ones owned by the company, the ones rented, and the temporary port - and transit warehouses.

We need to keep in mind that currently, Amazon is the largest private parcel courier in the UK, delivering 15% of the estimated 5.4bn packages in 2021 – the equivalent of more than 2m items a day. They range from Prime next-day deliveries to the last mile of packages shipped from thousands of miles away in China or India.

The “Amazon effect” in the UK 

Due to the e-commerce surge in our post-pandemic world, some administrations in counties and cities in the UK have started to cope with a massive increase in waste from e-commerce packages. This has been dupped the “Amazon effect”

And the problem is that the Amazon effect is happening with the recycled materials also: cardboard and paper are left on the curbside, piled up because the recycling companies can’t handle the huge surge derived from the massive increase in e-commerce. 

An effect that, at least in Norfolk County, reportedly caused 159 tonnes of waste during 2021. According to  Norfolk Recycles - part of the Norfolk Waste Partnership, made up of the region's county, district, city, and borough councils - said the amount of recycling waste has increased by 6pc in the last year, to 159,221 tonnes.

A situation that is also happening all over the UK. 

Rising environmental and financial costs of e-commerce 

One of the key issues with Amazon in the UK has been the environmental cost of its services. This situation is not new, last year up to £7bn was lost due to e-commerce returns, and the carbon footprint suffered heavily from this

And even when the statistic is a global one, including all e-commerce in the UK, many blame Amazon directly for it, claiming that the current e-commerce standards that have created this situation, are a consequence of Amazon’s global business model that has pushed all other e-commerce to emulated or disappear. 

This recent awareness that the current e-commerce standards for packaging, delivery, and returns, are no longer valid - due to the high environmental costs it has - has pushed companies into researching and promoting more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions. 

One of such is Recycold’s solution plant-based thermal solution for cold chain packaging, a sector normally heavy on the use of plastics, which had no previous cost-efficient alternative. 

It seems pretty clear that the current way of packaging, delivery, and recycling is just not enough to cope with the environmental cost of a rising global e-commerce economy. And you can rest assured that in the near and mid-term, we will continue to see industry leaders like Amazon, pushing towards experimental new ways to be more eco-friendly. So if you have not done anything in this regard for your e-commerce packaging and delivery, we strongly recommend you to start perusing possible eco-friendly solutions both for the packing, as well as for the transportation of your goods. 

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