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How to recycle the different types of Amazon packaging

2 min
Girl in Kitchen with Recyclable Padded Mailer
Amazon’s packaging continues to evolve as we invent ways to reduce packaging and increase its recyclability. Here’s a how-to guide on recycling our packaging.
Do you have Amazon boxes piling up? We have a few ideas for putting that cardboard to good use.

As your orders arrive, you may notice the different types of packaging (or lack thereof) from Amazon. Read on to learn why our packaging varies and how to properly recycle the different types.

Amazon’s packaging continues to evolve as we invent ways to reduce packaging and increase its recyclability. Here’s a how-to guide on recycling our packaging.
Do you have Amazon boxes piling up? We have a few ideas for putting that cardboard to good use.

As your orders arrive, you may notice the different types of packaging (or lack thereof) from Amazon. Read on to learn why our packaging varies and how to properly recycle the different types.

  • Paper-padded mailers
    An image of an amazon package with a beige background.

    The paper-padded mailer was created by Amazon engineers and material scientists to replace the mailers that were a mix of both paper and plastic that were not recyclable. Amazon’s mailers can be thrown right into your curbside recycling bin—just like a cardboard box and other paper products. In 2022, Amazon replaced 99% of the non-recyclable mixed mailers with the paper-padded mailer in Canada and the U.S.

  • Bubble-lined plastic bags, plastic bags, and air pillows
    An image of an amazon package with a beige background.
    An image of an amazon package with a beige background.

    These solutions offer a protective, lightweight option for products. Some cities offer curbside recycling, but where not available, these should be taken to designated store drop-off locations where plastic film is accepted. Locations are typically at convenient places you may already go, like the grocery store. Don’t forget to pop the air pillows before you recycle them! Find your drop-off location.

    When a product requires packaging for protection, Amazon has continuously expanded our packaging options, finding ways to make our packaging lighter and recyclable, while still ensuring the product arrives safely. Mailers and bags are up to 90% lighter than a similar-sized box. We use machine learning algorithms to examine the qualities of a product and determine the packaging it needs to protect it. Over the past five years, these algorithms have reduced the use of corrugate boxes by over 35% in North America and Europe.

  • Cardboard boxes
    An image of an amazon package with a beige background.

    In addition to helping us identify what products can be sent in mailers, machine learning helps us determine the right-sized cardboard box. In North America, this has resulted in an annual reduction in cardboard waste of 7% to 10%, saving roughly 60,000 tons of cardboard annually.

    Cardboard boxes can go straight into your curbside recycling bin. Flatten the boxes and remove the tape. Boxes can still be recycled with the tape, but removing it makes the recycling process easier.

  • Product packaging

    Sometimes, the best packaging is no packaging at all. You may have noticed some products arrive in their own product packaging, without any added Amazon packaging. This is our Ships in Product Packaging program. These products have been thoroughly tested to ensure they can reach you safely without the need of an Amazon box, bag, or padding.

    An image of a woman holding a package in a mailroom.

    We know there may be times like holidays and birthdays when you'd like to keep items a surprise. If a product is qualified to ship in its own packaging, on the product detail page, you’ll see an “Item arrives in packaging that shows what’s inside” message. For most items, you’ll have the option to select “Ship in Amazon packaging” at checkout at no extra cost, keeping any special gifts under wraps. Additionally, if you choose a gift option, the product will be sent in Amazon packaging.

    Get an inside look at how we’re sending some of your orders without Amazon packaging.

  • Ongoing innovation
    Amazon packages in a conveyer at a fulfillment center.

    We’re working to make it easier to recycle our packaging. We recently announced the transition of our first automated U.S. fulfillment center to only use curbside recyclable, paper delivery packaging, eliminating plastic delivery packaging. This required creating new machines and packaging that we are now testing.

Making sure our customers are aware of these updates and the best ways to recycle is important. Last year, we teamed up with Nash and Taylor Grier to help get the word out.

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