Supermarkets have been trying to reduce the amount of single use plastic being consumed in their stores, so what is Amazon doing? In the UK, it seems the exact opposite.

Amazon trash
© Carl Rubin Photography/

Hailing from Glasgow, Adrian Fletcher is one of those who has complained about Amazon's new plastic packaging scheme. He feels Amazon is making a "major step backwards" in the fight against plastic waste. Will the complaints force Amazon to change its ways?

According to the, Adrian went on to say: "Previously our small orders arrived in easily recyclable cardboard packaging, but a few months ago Amazon started using plastic envelopes. I diligently recycle all the packaging but can't [recycle] these. The supermarkets have all been dropping carrier bags from their online deliveries, but Amazon is going the other way – it’s madness. I have asked them not to ship my orders using plastic packaging but this falls on deaf ears.”

A Second Chance Indeed

Amazon has a programme showing customers how to recycle its packaging. It is called Amazon's Second Chance, which goes on record saying that Prime-branded envelopes are "not widely recycled across the UK." 

Pen To Paper

Amazon is now one of 181 companies who signed a new official definition of corporate purpose in the US. This eschews the traditional idea that companies sole responsibility is to line the pockets of its shareholders. In the modern world, there are other stakeholders that are being taken into account. These include employees, customers, suppliers and the community.

This is in response to increasing criticism of traditional capitalism, and includes a pledge to protect the environment "by embracing sustainable practices." Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and boss, signed the pledge.

Mike Childs is the head of policy at Friends of the Earth. He said, "Despite the huge public outcry, it’s astonishing how many companies are still using single-trip, unrecyclable plastic for deliveries. If we want to stem the tide of plastic pollution blighting our environment, giant firms like Amazon have to find ways of making deliveries in returnable and reusable packaging. And if they won’t – the government should make them."

Paper Or Plastic?

Figures from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs showed the number of single-use plastic bags sold in the main supermarket chains had fallen by more than 90% since the introduction of the 5p charge in October 2015. 

In addition to listening to customer feedback, Amazon when on record saying: "Our mission is to deliver the very best customer experience. We work with manufacturers worldwide to continuously improve packaging design and introduce new, sustainable packaging that delights customers, eliminates waste, and ensures products arrive intact and undamaged for our customers."