Reducing Waste and Packaging

Waste is a side effect of inefficiency, and we’re constantly working to eliminate it across our business. That includes the waste we produce in our operations, as well as customer waste, like packaging and retired products. We aim to avoid waste altogether through innovation, design, and operational efficiencies. We also offer programs to enable our customers to repair, resell, recycle, and repurpose their products.

A sliver of light shines on the corner of a paper padded mailer. Showing in the light is the recycling symbol with the words "This new package is recyclable"
A sliver of light shines on the corner of a paper padded mailer. Showing in the light is the recycling symbol with the words "This new package is recyclable"
A sliver of light shines on the corner of a paper padded mailer. Showing in the light is the recycling symbol with the words "This new package is recyclable"
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Our Progress
By the Numbers
~368 Million
Items were resold, liquidated, or donated in the U.S. and Europe by sellers with Amazon’s help
Reduction in average per-shipment packaging weight in the U.S., Canada, and the EU since 2015
Of packaging material in Europe and India is household recyclable
Our Approach

Amazon follows the industry standard for waste management, aiming to avoid creating any in the first place.

When we can’t eliminate waste through design and other efficiencies, we increase the amount we reuse, repair, and recycle. Sending waste to landfill is our last resort.

This waste hierarchy is an industry framework that guides our approach to managing and preventing waste. It represents the most preferred option at the top to the least preferred at the bottom. We use this framework to better manage our waste, pursuing opportunities that are more preferred before moving down the hierarchy.

The Waste Hierarchy
We improve product and packaging design, inventory management, materials sourcing, and resource use to prevent waste from the start.

We pursue avenues such as increased product durability and resale to reduce waste. We also work to prevent waste generation by helping customers make informed decisions, which reduces product returns, and offer several ways for them to support product circularity.

We repair, repurpose, and donate usable items where possible.

We recycle and compost to recover raw materials where possible, including food waste.

Incineration with Energy Recovery
Where prevention, reduction, reuse, or recycling aren’t possible, we target energy recovery.

Landfill and Incineration without Energy Recovery
Both landfill and incineration without energy recovery are disposal methods strictly used as a last resort for waste that is either ineligible for or cannot be diverted to better recovery pathways.

Packaging Innovation

We’re committed to delivering the products our customers love in packaging that protects their items, while minimizing waste and materials used.

Person dropping Amazon mailer into curbside recycling bin
Our Progress
43% Reduction
Since 2015, we’ve decreased our average per-shipment packaging weight by 43%, which represents more than 3 million metric tons of packaging materials avoided.

We use machine learning, materials innovation, and supplier partnerships to optimize our packaging. This leads to reduced waste and reduced weight, which ultimately helps reduce our carbon emissions. We’re also increasing the recyclability of our packaging for easy curbside recycling for our customers.

Our Ships In Product Packaging (SIPP) program is just one example of how we reduce waste through packaging design and innovation. Through SIPP, eligible items are delivered in the original manufacturer’s packaging without additional Amazon packaging. This allows us to avoid unnecessary packaging and reduce the weight of deliveries.

In 2023, 12% of packages globally shipped without additional Amazon packaging as part of the SIPP program.

Part of our mission to be Earth’s most customer-centric company is to offer more-sustainable devices without compromising on quality or cost. We design our devices with best-in-class reliability models so that they are more resilient, last longer, and don’t need to be replaced as often. We also release over-the-air software updates for our customers’ devices with feature and security updates.

The longer a device remains reliable and useful for customers, the more likely a customer is to keep using it. That leads to less carbon being emitted by building and shipping new replacements. It also leads to less waste by keeping usable products out of the waste stream. When the time comes to retire or replace a device, we make it easy for customers to recycle their products without sending them into the waste stream through Amazon Second Chance.
Helping Our Customers Avoid Waste Through Amazon Second Chance

Amazon Second Chance offers a range of services for customers to recycle, repair, or trade in their items, as well as shop for like-new and refurbished products. Amazon Second Chance also provides information about how to easily recycle or responsibly dispose of Amazon packaging.

Amazon Renewed offers refurbished products such as electronics, home appliances, and more. All products are professionally inspected and tested to work and look like new and are backed by the Amazon Renewed Guarantee.
Amazon Resale gives a second life to products returned by customers. Each product undergoes a rigorous 20-point inspection process before being sold at a discount.
Pre-owned Amazon devices provides customers with access to certified refurbished, like-new Amazon devices that have been screened and tested by Amazon and are backed with the same limited warranty as new devices.
For electronic equipment that cannot be repaired or traded in, customers can recycle their items free of charge through the Amazon Recycling Program in the U.S. and through various recycling initiatives in Europe.
Trade In
Amazon Trade-in allows customers in the U.S., the UK, and Germany to trade in thousands of eligible electronics, such as Amazon devices and select third-party cell phones, tablets, video games and consoles, Bluetooth devices, and more, in exchange for an Amazon Gift Card.
Free Product Support provides customers with technical assistance for select items, encouraging customers to fix items and maximize their lifespan before replacing or disposing of them. In the U.S., repair support is also available through iFixit.
Preventing and Managing Waste

The waste we generate falls into two categories: internal and external. Internal waste is generated inside our operations, while external waste is generated both upstream and downstream of our operations, such as by suppliers and customers. Some of these items are diverted from waste streams by our prevention efforts, recycling programs, and other initiatives to reduce waste.

Our internal (direct) waste footprint includes:

Operations: Operational waste is the type of waste that we can most directly control. We manage operational waste generated across our business, including from our grocery stores and other retail sites, customer fulfillment operations, office buildings, and data centers. Waste from our internal operations falls into two categories:

  • Inventory waste includes heavily damaged and unsold items, customer returns that cannot be resold, donated, or recycled, and food that is no longer safe for consumption.
  • Noninventory waste is made up of resources that are used and discarded within our businesses. These materials enable our operations but are not directly part of the inventory of finished goods or materials used to produce them. Noninventory waste includes materials such as used cardboard boxes, shrink wrap, electronic waste, break room waste, used office furniture, and damaged storage equipment.

Our external (indirect) waste footprint includes the following areas:

  • Customer waste is generated during product use or in the form of product and delivery packaging, including when disposed of. Beyond the work we do to help customers keep items in use longer, we also offer several ways for them to support product circularity and prevent waste through our Amazon Second Chance program.
  • Construction waste comes from activities related to building our facilities. This consists mainly of commingled construction and demolition waste such as metals, masonry, asphalt, and drywall.
  • Supply chain waste is generated by third-party suppliers who manufacture products for, and provide goods and services to, our company.
Food Waste

We are always exploring new ways to reduce food loss and waste as we work toward our goal to reduce our food waste by 50% across our U.S. and Europe operations by 2030.

A Whole Foods Market employee in a mask holds carrots with gloved hands in the produce aisle
Our Progress
As of December 2023, our food waste intensity had decreased by 28% in the U.S. and by 75% in Europe compared to a 2021 baseline.

This commitment is reflective of our membership in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, which we joined in 2020. We then extended our commitment to reducing food waste to our Europe operations in 2021.

We measure our progress against this commitment with a food waste intensity metric that calculates the amount of food waste generated as a percentage of total food handled by weight within Amazon.

To reduce food waste, we are improving our management and distribution channels and buying practices to minimize surplus food inventory. We also work to reduce our surplus by offering discounts on items at risk of becoming waste.

Product Donations
Just because an item is returned to one of our facilities doesn’t mean it’s at the end of its useful life. At our global fulfillment centers, we use software to identify and sort eligible items that are fit for donation. We partner with local community organizations to collect these items from Amazon facilities and distribute them to people in need.

By donating surplus inventory to charitable organizations, we keep usable products out of the waste stream and help strengthen our local communities. To date, we’ve donated millions of products to global charity partners in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
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