Stop Recycling Amazon’s Plastic Packaging


Photo: Lynne Sladky (AP)

Recycling can be a little complicated as it is—it’s never as easy as throwing plastic in a plastics recycling bin. Most curbside recycling programs don’t accept plastic bags, for example.

And now, you have another thing to avoid recycling: Amazon’s plastic packaging.

According to a Washington Post report, Amazon’s new, non-recyclable plastic mailers are “gumming up” some U.S. recycling facilities, with consumers throwing them in the recycling bin along with other plastics.

Photo: Mark Lennihan (AP)

“That Amazon packaging suffers from the same problems as plastic bags, which are not sortable in our recycling system and get caught in the machinery,” Lisa Sepanski, project manager for King County Solid Waste Division, told the Washington Post. “It takes labor to cut them out. They have to stop the machinery.”

The paper labeling on the mailers, too, is non-recyclable, further complicating the issue.

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Over the past year, Amazon began shipping some of its packages in plastic mailers to customers worldwide, as alternatives to its cardboard box. This was meant to save space on shipping trucks and planes (and this plastic, overall, reduces greenhouse gas emissions according to some experts).

Still, the plastic has created another problem: a larger heap of non-recyclable plastic to deal with, entering our landfills (though, Amazon plans to launch a fully recyclable paper mailer at an undisclosed time).

So what should you actually do with Amazon’s plastic mailers? Simple—throw them in the trash, so they won’t contaminate recyclables and interrupt machinery. Though it doesn’t explicitly mention plastic packaging, How2Recycle’s locator may help you find a nearby store willing to accept packaging (call in advance to make sure the material is accepted).

And if not, reuse the packaging for your own shipments and returns.

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