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Improving Our Packaging
Illustration of the different elements of a package surrounding an Alexa device.
Illustration of the different elements of a package surrounding an Alexa device.

Improving Our Packaging

Amazon customers want properly-sized, recyclable packaging that minimises waste and ensures damage-free delivery. We work to reinvent and simplify our sustainable packaging options using a science-based approach that combines lab testing, machine learning, materials science and manufacturing partnerships to scale sustainable change across the packaging supply chain.
Driving Towards Zero Additional Packaging
At Amazon, designing packaging starts with the customer and works backwards. Unlike traditional retail shops, products bought online don’t need the excess packaging and plastic materials used for displaying products on shop shelves, such as twist-ties, bindings and clamshell casings.
Child opening FFP package at birthday party.
In 2008, Amazon introduced Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) to help manufacturers reduce packaging waste and develop sustainable alternatives for online fulfilment. Our FFP programs incentivise manufacturers to package their products in easy-to-open packaging that is 100 % recyclable and ready to dispatch to customers without additional Amazon boxes. As of June 2021, we have reduced the weight of outbound packaging by over 36 % and eliminated more than 1 million tons of packaging material since 2015—the equivalent of 2 billion shipping boxes.

To certify products under our FFP certification tiers, Amazon identifies specific steps that manufacturers can take to improve their packaging and ensure products are protected all the way to the customer’s doorstep. We partnered with the International Safe Transit Association to craft the standards behind our FFP programmes and have developed a network of structural packaging designers, testing services, and materials suppliers to support manufacturers throughout the certification process. As of June 2021, more than 2 million products qualify under our FFP programmes.

Frustration-Free Packaging by the Numbers
  • 36 %
    Outbound packaging by weight
  • 1 million
    Packaging material eliminated
  • 2 million
    Qualify under our FFP Programmes
Why does your Tide package look different?
We teamed up with Procter & Gamble to invent the Tide Eco-Box, a concentrated version of Tide’s traditional laundry detergent compressed into a fully recyclable, shipping-safe package. It uses 60 % less plastic and 30 % less water than a conventional plastic jug, and requires no additional packing materials to dispatch.
“It’s been rewarding to find something that is a win, not only for the consumer, but for the company and for the environment.”
Elizabeth Kinney
Procter & Gamble
Our innovative paper padded mailer offers the same recyclability as our corrugated boxes, while taking up less space in transit and in the recycling bin. The paper padded mailer is made of four layers of paper and a water-based cushioning material, which was designed to easily separate in the same way that print inks and other paper coatings are removed during the paper recycling process. We are expanding our use of paper padded mailers across North America to replace the use of mixed paper and plastic mailers by the end of 2022.
Improving Our Packaging Selections
As we continue to expand our FFP programmes to reduce the need for additional packaging, we are improving the design and materials used for our packaging assortment. We are reducing the weight of packaging materials, while making our packaging more robust to avoid damage in the e-commerce supply chain. We’ve also added on-package messaging to inform customers about these improvements and provide guidance on how to recycle their packaging materials.
  • Flexible paper-based mailers
    We are increasing our use of flexible paper-based mailers across Europe, allowing us to significantly reduce the use of plastic in packaging materials by the end of 2021.
  • Eliminating thin-film plastics
    In India, Amazon eliminated single-use, thin film plastics in packaging in 2020 by replacing plastic materials like bubble wrap and air pillows with paper cushions and introducing plastic-free, biodegradable tape.
  • Increasing recycled content
    We are improving the composition of our plastic packaging solutions to use less material and incorporate more recycled content. We are increasing the recycled content of our plastic film bags from 25 % to 50 % in 2021, and from 15 % to over 40 % for our plastic padded bags. Together, these improvements are expected to eliminate more than 25,000 metric tons of new plastic each year.
  • Reducing plastic
    At our Whole Foods Market stores, we changed to smaller plastic produce bags and replaced all plastic rotisserie chicken containers with bags that use approximately 70 % less plastic. Combined, these changes are estimated to save nearly 900,000 kilos of plastic annually.
  • Eliminating plastic straws and polystyrene
    In 2019, Whole Foods Market became the first national retailer to remove all plastic straws from its cafes and coffee bars—avoiding 21 million straws annually. We also eliminated all polystyrene meat trays across Whole Foods Market stores in the US and Canada.
  • Recyclable grocery solutions
    At Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market in the US, we are rolling out a curbside recyclable solution to keep grocery items frozen or chilled during delivery. This new packaging is produced with recycled paper and eliminates the need for plastic liners or bubble bag insulation.
In 2020, we committed to make Amazon device packaging 100 % curbside recyclable by 2023. In 2020, we committed to make Amazon device packaging 100 % curbside recyclable by 2023. We are also working to source 100 % of the wood fibre in our packaging from responsibly managed forests or recycled sources. We made significant progress towards these goals in 2020, eliminating more than 27 million plastic bags from our device packaging and sourcing more than 97 % of the wood fibre packaging for all new Echo and Fire TV devices launched in 2020 from responsibly managed forests or recycled sources.

Optimising Through Machine Learning

How big of a box is needed for a given product? Is an Amazon box needed at all? To optimise packaging selections at Amazon’s scale, we use machine learning algorithms to arrive at the best possible packaging choices for deliveries. That means identifying which products don’t need additional packaging, and which smaller products are suitable for flexible packaging, such as padded mailers and bags, which are up to 75 % lighter than similar-sized boxes. Flexible packaging conforms around products, reducing the need for additional packing materials, and takes up 40 % less space than a box during delivery. In cases where the protection of a box is needed, machine learning helps us continuously optimise box choices to fit our ever-changing catalogue of products and redesign boxes to use less material. When packaging weighs less and is the right size to protect customer orders, we can pack more orders into each delivery, resulting in fewer trips and less fuel used.

We also use machine learning to identify products where even small packaging improvements can have significant impacts on reducing waste. For example, we developed a machine learning model to identify liquid products with the highest average rates of customer-reported damages. We subject those products to extensive testing at our Amazon Packaging Lab, where we simulate a package’s journey from the manufacturer to the customer, providing data and insights we can share with manufacturers to improve their packaging design.

Packaging Partnerships
  • Logo of ista, an Amazon Sustainability partner
    Logo of ista, an Amazon Sustainability partner
    International Safe Transit Association

    International Safe Transit Association

    Amazon joined the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA), an organization focused on the specific concerns of transport packaging. ISTA is a nonprofit, member-driven association that sets the standards for optimizing the resources in packages that are designed to be survivable, sustainable, and successful.
  • Logo of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, an Amazon Sustainability partner
    Logo of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, an Amazon Sustainability partner
    Sustainable Packaging Coalition

    Sustainable Packaging Coalition

    Amazon joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), an industry working group dedicated to a more robust environmental vision for packaging. SPC uses strong member support, an informed and science-based approach, supply chain collaborations, and continuous outreach to build packaging systems that encourage economic prosperity and a sustainable flow of materials.
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