Amazon Packaging

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Saurabh Kimtee
8/2/2022
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Plastic, paper, and cardboard are the materials that are most used in packaging. Amazon usesplain and discreet packaging which is generally made using a variety of non-recyclable materialswith few exceptions, these materials are recycled if possible otherwise end up in landfills oroceans.Amazon works to reinvent and simplify its sustainable packaging options using a science-basedapproach that combines lab testing, machine learning, materials science, and manufacturingpartnerships to scale sustainable change across the packaging supply chain. Introduction ofFrustration free packaging in 2008 helped amazon reduce their as well as the manufacturer'spackaging waste and as of June 2021, Amazon has reduced the weight of outbound packagingby over 36% and eliminated more than 1 million tons of packaging material since 2015 which isthe equivalent to 2 billion shipping boxes.

What it's made of:

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Plastic, paper, and cardboard are the materials that are most used in packaging. Amazon usesplain and discreet packaging which is generally made using a variety of non-recyclable materialswith few exceptions, these materials are recycled if possible otherwise end up in landfills oroceans.Amazon works to reinvent and simplify its sustainable packaging options using a science-basedapproach that combines lab testing, machine learning, materials science, and manufacturingpartnerships to scale sustainable change across the packaging supply chain. Introduction ofFrustration free packaging in 2008 helped amazon reduce their as well as the manufacturer'spackaging waste and as of June 2021, Amazon has reduced the weight of outbound packagingby over 36% and eliminated more than 1 million tons of packaging material since 2015 which isthe equivalent to 2 billion shipping boxes.

How it's made:

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According to a study carried out by the CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law), inorder to manufacture a kilogram of plastic, 3.5 kg of CO2is emitted into the atmosphere, whichonly adds to the problem posed by its slow degradation.A common e-commerce box that is 9 x 9 x 9 inches is estimated to emit 0.27 kg CO2e, which isthe equivalent of 3.0% of a gallon of gasoline. Some cardboard boxes also contain printedsurfaces, which also contributes to the environmental impact of a cardboard box and adds tothe carbon footprint of the box.When a product enters an amazon warehouse it is stowed randomly using forklifts or manuals.It is then organized and scanned for accuracy and then sent to the pack station where acomputer system recommends box sizes to associates, and a machine measures out the exactamount of tape needed. Many items are shipped in their original boxes, and Amazon works withvendors to reduce packaging. Packed envelopes and boxes then race underneath the SLAM(Scan, Label, Apply, Manifest) machines, which deposit shipping labels. Then it is transported tosortation centers from one of its facilities centers where packages are distributed by locationand the required delivery speed. From here, they are loaded onto a variety of transportationmodes, from Amazon lorries and planes to carriers such as Hermes, DPD, and the Royal Mail.As part of Amazon’s goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, they are on a path to powering theiroperations with 100% renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of their original target of2030. In 2020, 65% of the energy consumed at amazon was from renewable energy sourcesespecially wind and solar. Amazon installs solar panels on rooftops to power its operations. Theyalso have many wind projects and have announced their largest single renewable energy projectin June 2021. It is a 380 MW capacity offshore wind project in the Netherlands which isscheduled for operation by 2024.

Who makes it:

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International Paper (IP) supplies almost half of the cardboard boxes used by Amazon. Amazonships an average of 608 million packages each year, which equates to (an estimated) 1,600,000packages a day.Amazon employs more than 1500 full-time associates at their fulfillment center. Theseemployees pick, pack, and ship orders to customers. Amazon’s non-fulfillment center employsmore than 1000 full-time associates to pick, pack and ship bulky or large-sized items. They havemore than 175 centers around the world. Amazon hires a lot of full-time and part-timeemployees at these centers to carry out their workload.Though there are lots of opportunities in Amazon there have been many complaints fromemployees at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Workers at amazon alleged that they are givenback-breaking tasks in the warehouses. Many have complained that they do not have the timeto use the restroom in between. There’s fear in employees that if they don’t meet specifiedquotas, they’ll be fired. They do pay a minimum of $15 an hour which is decent enough but notaccording to the workload described by the worker

Sources:

SOURCES1. https://www.essentra.com/en/news/articles/packaging_carbon-footprint-in-packaging2. https://blog.mrboxonline.com/corrugated/how-many-cardboard-boxes-does-amazon-ship-each-day/3. https://consumerecology.com/carbon-footprint-of-a-cardboard-box/4. https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/operations/inside-amazons-fulfillment-centers-what-you-can-expect-to-see-on-a-warehouse-tour5. https://www.aboutamazon.co.uk/amazon-fulfilment/how-your-package-gets-from-amazonswarehouse-to-your-front-door6. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bet-amazon-without-pay-1200-share-150311029.html7. https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/environment/circular-economy/packaging8. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/10/25/a-hard-hitting-investigative-report-intoamazon-shows-that-workers-needs-were-neglected-in-favor-of-getting-goods-delivered-quickly/?sh=23d9171a51f5