Amazon to stop using plastic air pillows in packages

Updated
Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspap

Amazon is pledging to drastically cut down on the retailer's usage of plastic air pillows in packages and replace them with paper filler.

Removing 95% of the air pillows is part of Amazon's broader plan to reduce waste and use recyclable material at its fulfillment centers, the company said in a statement Thursday. Amazon is working to remove all plastic air pillows in North America by the end of 2024, Pat Lindner, the vice president for sustainable packaging said in a statement.

The move will allow Amazon to stop using some 15 billion plastic air pillows a year, the company said.

Customers will notice that the air pillows are missing from the orders next month starting during Prime Day, the company added. Amazon said the paper filler is made of 100% recycled content and provides equivalent protection during shipping.

Amazon joins companies including PepsiCo, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris International and Mars in vowing to reduce their plastic usage, according to a tally from the League of Women Voters. In April, Starbucks unveiled a new cup lineup that the coffee vendor said will keep more than 13.5 million pounds of plastic out of landfills every year.

An estimated 33 billion pounds of the world's plastic trash enters the oceans every year, according to the nonprofit conservation group Oceana, eventually breaking down into tiny fragments. A 2020 study found 1.9 million microplastic pieces in an area of about 11 square feet in the Mediterranean Sea.

Marine life that consumes plastics can get eaten by larger prey, which in turn can get ingested by humans. Meanwhile, plastic clean-up costs, along with related financial losses to fisheries and other industries, amounts to roughly $13 billion per year, according to the United Nations.

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