29th June 2020
I am writing on behalf of UN-aligned. An alternative United Nations organization that seeks to put humanity before nationality and planet before greed. We consider topics ranging from the current United Nations, Human Rights, Environment, Economy and Trade. Today I am writing to you in relation to our commitment to the environment. In particular, our members are interested in schemes to limit the need for packaging and on this topic, we reach out to you for answers. Naturally, the scope of this is limitless, but I’d like to address to you some concerns regarding Amazons conscious effort towards sustainable packaging materials in your orders.
I am aware of your commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040 and using 100% renewable energy by 2030 but am underwhelmed by the time scale for Amazons commitments to change considering the resources available to you. I’ve no doubt, as the cardboard used for your boxes equates to around a billion trees (Forbes, 2018), you are aware that recycling cardboard is not an endless loop of renewable material since paper fibers degrade each time that they are recycled. Thus resulting in landfill after around the fifth cycle.
Moreover, I’d like to address your Frustration Free packaging initiative to offer more sustainable packaging. The sentiment of this initiative is lukewarm as the recycling industry is riddled with greenwashing problems of its own. Why is recycling packaging portrayed by Amazon as the first response to being ‘environmentally friendly’ when it should be viewed as a last resort?
In addition to this, it has not been made clear to consumers what percentage of Amazons cardboard boxes currently contain recycled content. Are you able to share the amount and how you make this information available for customers?
Alternatively, can you explain why in 2020 Amazon does not try to direct the cardboard away from recycling facilities and eventual landfill altogether through education instead? Amazon surely has a duty to inform customers that clean, corrugated cardboard can serve many purposes in gardening for instance.
Finally, I am seeking to understand Amazons stance on alternative packaging. For example, why are compostable options not in use today when many small, independent businesses have opted for this in 2020 as part of their conscious effort towards sustainability? Currently deforestation is at the heart of Amazons packaging, rather than using corn starch, PLA and PBAT material for an entirely compostable alternative.
This letter will be published in its entirety on un-aligned.org plus featured in the UN-aligned monthly publication, The Gordian. We look forward to including your response in a subsequent issue and on our website for members to follow and better understand Amazons commitment to providing appropriate packaging.