Amazon requires sellers to use more efficient packaging, or pay up
What’s more groan-inducing than slicing open a bulky box and wading through mounds of plastic and paper only to find a small gadget inside?
This — plus the box-within-a-box phenomenon — is a common experience for Amazon shoppers. Now the internet giant wants to change that.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Amazon has instituted new standards for its sellers to make packaging more compact and efficient.
Amazon reportedly starting issuing the directive last fall. But now, time’s up. Sellers were told to make changes by Aug. 1 or face fines.
The effort to cut down on the amount of packaging is a good one, from a cost and environmental perspective. For Amazon, more efficient packaging on the seller end means cheaper shipping costs from the warehouses to people’s homes. Amazon has also reportedly been changing its inventory to make every item it ships financially worth it; smaller, cheaper items are now increasingly sold in bulk, according to a separate report from the Journal.
It could help from an environmental perspective, too. Amazon got shoppers hooked on home delivery, and that’s created a mountainous waste problem. The materials are theoretically recyclable, except for the fact that U.S. cities are facing a recycling crisis — often sending recycled products to the landfill and incinerator — now that China has greatly decreased the amount of recycling it will buy from the United States. Creating less waste is one of the only obvious solutions to this problem.
Amazon has been using logistics to attack the waste creation problem. In February, it announced the creation of “Amazon Day.” No, that’s not another shopping holiday. It’s a dedicated day per week that shoppers can choose to have their packages delivered. That means that Amazon warehouses would theoretically package more products together, reducing the amount of boxes needed for shipping.
The environmental upside of Amazon’s new restrictions are clear. But according to the Journal, reconfiguring packaging has been costly for sellers, meaning it increases profitability for Amazon at the expense of the companies who rely on it.