Amazon develops sustainable delivery packaging

A woman looks at an Amazon delivery package made with recyclable material.

Written by James Shea

Waste and recycling continue to be an issue in the delivery sector. To address those concerns among consumers, Amazon has developed packaging for grocery deliveries that is recyclable.

The new packaging is made from recycled paper and is compatible with curbside recycling. Whether customers order a  turkey, green beans or ice cream from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market, the products arrive insulated in packaging that is easy and convenient for customers to recycle at home.

Moving to all curbside-recyclable insulation packaging replaces approximately 735,000 pounds of plastic film, 3.15 million pounds of natural cotton fiber, and 15 million pounds of non-recyclable mixed plastic, according to Amazon The new packaging is produced in the U.S., enabling the company to deliver it to Amazon Fresh grocery hubs, stores and Whole Foods Market locations with fewer miles traveled across the supply chain.

“I’m excited and optimistic about the feedback we’re hearing from customers,” wrote Stephenie Landry, vice president of grocery at Amazon in a recent blog post. “One customer shared with us this great sentiment – ‘Absolutely love the new cold foods packaging you are using. Prefer it over the non-recyclable cooler bags.'”

Joe Rake, a senior program manager on the grocery delivery packaging team, led efforts for the project. He said the team needed to develop something that was not only recyclable but also kept food fresh. At the same time, the packaging needed to be compact for delivery drivers and inexpensive to manufacture.

“Our teams are constantly working on ways to minimize waste, increase recycling and provide options for customers to reuse, repair, and recycle their products,” Rake said. “The goal is to send less material to the landfill and more back into the circular economy loop.”

He said the product was thoroughly tested and met Amazon’s specifications.

“In 2018, we introduced frozen water bottles as an alternative to frozen gel packs to provide a grocery insulation solution that’s widely recyclable or reusable by our customers,” Rake said. “That step had a similar ethos to what we were looking to do with this new packaging initiative”

The company tested the thermal effectiveness of the all-recyclable paper in a company lab, as well as in multiple external labs in North America and Europe. Rake said he is proud of the way the product turned out.

“We recognized an urgent need to find sustainable solutions that can eliminate hard-to-recycle materials—and we are proud to be focused on scaling these solutions,” he said. “This recyclable packaging will hopefully inspire others, both at Amazon and elsewhere, to continue finding creative, sustainable solutions for customers and communities around the world.”

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