Packaging Innovation

Our customers want right-sized, recyclable packaging that minimizes waste and ensures damage-free delivery. As we work to eliminate unnecessary packaging altogether, we’re optimizing the type, material, and weight of additional packaging when it’s needed to deliver products safely. We’re also increasing the recyclability of our packaging for easy curbside recycling for our customers.

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Our Progress
By the Numbers
2 million
Eliminated more than 2 million tons of packaging materials since 2015
Reduced per-shipment packaging weight by 41% on average since 2015
Avoided 37,150 metric tons of plastic globally since 2020
Our Approach

We continually work to reinvent and simplify our packaging options using a science-based approach that combines lab testing, machine learning, materials science, and manufacturing partnerships.

When additional packaging is required, we optimize with lighter, right-sized options that reduce waste and carbon, while ensuring products arrive safely. We strive to use materials that are curbside recyclable and have a lower carbon footprint. We also partner with industry peers to create and scale solutions across the packaging supply chain.

Our Delivery Packaging Breakdown in 2022

We seek to maximize our use of low-waste packaging types while achieving year-over-year reductions in the volume of higher-waste packaging options.

11% of shipments were delivered with no additional Amazon packaging
A smiling person in gloves sorts Amazon packages
49% of shipments were delivered in flexible packaging
An Amazon delivery driver carries a package with a Rivian delivery vehicle parked on the street behind them.
40% of shipments were delivered in corrugated boxes
Eliminating Packaging Where Possible

Sometimes the best solution is to use what already exists. That’s the idea behind our Ships In Own Container (SIOC) program, where eligible items are delivered in the original manufacturer’s packaging without additional Amazon packaging. This allows us to eliminate unnecessary packaging altogether and reduce the weight of deliveries.

We believe many products can be shipped without added packaging and are expanding our SIOC program by identifying, evaluating, and certifying items already packaged in materials suitable for shipping. We also encourage selling partners and vendors to re-engineer packaging to meet SIOC standards.

Samsung SIOC Case Study
Case Study: Samsung TV
Compared to standard packaging, SIOC packaging for a Samsung 49" Series 5 TV eliminates nine packaging components, reducing package volume by 69% and the amount of air shipped by 87%.

Improving Packaging Materials

We’re innovating the materials we use in our packaging so it can be easily recycled by customers through curbside recycling programs. We’re phasing out flexible bags that contain both plastic and paper in favor of recyclable alternatives.

A person pulls apart a paper mailer to reveal inside

The paper padded mailer is made of four layers of paper and a water-based cushioning material. The cushioning was designed to easily separate from the paper in the same way that print inks and other paper coatings are removed during the paper recycling process.

For example, our paper padded mailer is a flexible packaging option that offers the same recyclability benefits as corrugated boxes, while taking up less space in transit and in the recycling bin. In 2022, we expanded our use of paper padded mailers across the U.S. and Canada, replacing 99% of harder-to-recycle mixed-material padded bags.

Approximately 92% of packaging material weight in the U.S. and Canada (excluding produce bags and coolants) is curbside recyclable where programs are available. All EU one-way delivery packaging (excluding coolants) is also curbside recyclable. We also partner with organizations like The Recycling Partnership and Sustainable Packaging Coalition to improve recycling infrastructure.

Advancing Packaging Technologies to Reduce Plastic Waste
In 2022, Amazon joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s BOTTLE Consortium, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to develop technology that will enable bio-based and biodegradable plastic recycling. BOTTLE, which stands for “Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment,” focuses on developing new chemical upcycling strategies for plastics. As part of the consortium, our team of materials scientists and experts hopes to develop technologies and materials that will enable the full life cycle of plastics to be net-zero carbon.
Optimizing Packaging Selections Through Machine Learning

With millions of products and an infinite number of order combinations, identifying the optimal packaging solution to keep each unique order safe during transit represents a significant challenge. We use machine learning algorithms to determine the most efficient option for each order we fulfill.

Did you know?
Up to 90% lighter
Flexible packaging, such as padded mailers and bags, is up to 90% lighter than similar-sized boxes. We use machine learning algorithms to identify products that are suitable for flexible packaging.

These cutting-edge technologies help pinpoint the optimal packaging type for each item—from bag to box—depending on the level of protection needed. Where possible, we use lightweight packaging by prioritizing flexible paper bags and envelopes, which are up to 90% lighter than similar-sized, rigid corrugate boxes.

For orders with multiple items, machine learning algorithms help us determine the optimal fit to reduce empty space in boxes. Optimized shipments also require less space in the vehicles that deliver packages to our customers, helping reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

Another way we use machine learning is to optimize the suite of cardboard box options at any one facility. Our web-based tool PackOpt determines a facility’s optimal selection, based on the order patterns unique to that facility. In North America, applying PackOpt technology has resulted in an annual reduction in cardboard waste of 7% to 10%, saving roughly 60,000 tons of cardboard annually.

Explore Our Five Impact Areas
Driving Climate Solutions
Reducing Waste & Packaging
Protecting Natural Resources
Advancing Human Rights
Innovating Products & Services
Impact Areas
We aim to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 by investing in renewable energy, scaling solutions across our operations, and collaborating with partners to broaden our impact.
Impact Areas
We continually innovate the processes and materials we use across our operations to eliminate waste and increase recyclability.
Impact Areas
We strive to use natural resources in a responsible way across our business and supply chain, while investing in conservation and restoration initiatives.
Impact Areas
We promote the dignity and fundamental rights of the people connected to our business around the world.
Impact Areas
We invent, develop, and deliver products and services that help our customers on their sustainability journeys.
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