Statement: Amazon to phase out padded single-use plastic shipping bags

E-commerce leader reports reduction in plastic packaging

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Contact Information: 
Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG Education Fund State Director, [email protected], 916-524-1145
Mark Morgenstein, Media Relations Director, [email protected], 678-427-1671

LOS ANGELES — Amazon announced Tuesday in its 2022 sustainability report that it is “phasing out padded bags containing plastics in favor of recyclable alternatives.” The e-commerce company also said its use of single-use plastic across its global operations network (i.e., orders shipped through its fulfillment centers) declined by 11.6% from 2021 to 2022.

This means the eventual end of the blue and white plastic mailing envelopes in which many Americans get Amazon orders. These plastic mailers are not accepted in curbside recycling. However, each bears a “chasing arrows” recycling symbol and directs people to a website,, to learn about how to recycle it. Although store drop-off is one of the options, when CALPIRG conducted a small research project this spring, none of the 10 plastic mailers that volunteers placed in store drop-off recycling bins ended up in local recycling centers. 

Most plastic is landfilled, burned in incinerators, or breaks into small pieces in the environment, rather than being recycled. Micro-plastics have been found in nearly every corner of the globe, as well as human bodies, potentially with harmful impacts.

US PIRG Education Fund, the Student PIRGs, Environment America Research and Policy Center and other environmental organizations have turned in more than 138,000 petition signatures to Amazon headquarters calling on the company to eliminate plastic in its U.S. shipments. 

In response to Tuesday’s announcement, CALPIRG Education Fund State Director Jenn Engstrom made the following statement:

The plastic that Amazon and other e-retailers wrap around our online deliveries litters our communities soon after we open our packages and can linger for decades. It’s great to see Amazon commit to phasing out some of its plastic packaging. Now, Amazon should set an ambitious deadline for that phase-out while continuing to reduce its plastic footprint by eliminating all single-use plastic in its shipments.” 

Environment America Research & Policy Center Zero Waste Campaign Director Celeste Meiffren-Swango made the following statement:

“For a bird, fish or whale, it’s easy to mistake a small piece of plastic for food—especially when millions of pieces of plastic are floating in our rivers and oceans. Too often, ingesting this plastic is fatal for wildlife. To protect animals from these dangers, it’s critical that companies such as Amazon use less plastic in their shipments. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the environment for hundreds of years. Tuesday’s announcement is a good step in the right direction.”