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A new report states Amazon is responsible for millions of tons of plastic in the ocean each year

Amazon, obviously, has come out to say that the report is inaccurate.

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Image: KnowTechie

Amazon might be dominating the ecommerce landscape, but that comes with a cost to the environment. A recent report from a non-profit organization called Oceana suggests that last year Amazon generated around 211 million kilos of plastic waste that found its way into the ocean. That’s mainly plastic used to pack Amazon’s shipments.

The analysts at Oceana based their report on data from the packaging industry that they combined with their estimate on Amazon’s ecommerce market share. They said they had to use this methodology because Amazon didn’t reveal any data on its plastic pollution. Even in Amazon’s latest sustainability report, there is nothing about their plastic footprint. 

As expected, Amazon disagreed with Oceana’s estimate and quickly reacted once their report was made public. According to Amazon, Oceana’s figures were overblown for an astonishing 350%. Furthermore, in an email sent to The Verge, Amazon said they generate only a quarter of Oceana’s estimate. 

Even after the company’s pushback, the people at Oceana stand firmly with their estimate

Oceana’s spokesperson even said that even if Amazon’s estimates were spot on, that would mean that their plastic waste would be sufficient to circle the earth more than a hundred times. That is an amount of plastic waste that can lead to a large and serious problem for the oceans, said Oceana’s spokesperson. 

Plastic is essential for Amazon’s business as it is the only material that is lightweight, easy to move, and very cheap. That makes it ideal for Amazon’s air pillows and packaging. Simultaneously, once the plastic cover is stripped away from products, it can be easily pushed by wind or rain, end up in a landfill, and from there to find its way to the ocean. 

Just last year, a whale found on a beach in the Philippines had almost 40 kilos of plastic in its stomach. Every time we eat fish, we ingest a small percentage of microplastic that the fish consumed during its time in the ocean. So, in a way, part of that plastic finds its way into our stomachs as well. 

A 2017 study revealed that not more than 9% of all the world’s plastics are recycled. Even in areas where there are recycling programs in place, the particular plastic film used by Amazon is not always accepted. 

Oceana believes that the company can do way more to reduce its plastic footprint. They praise the effort made by Amazon India for not using single-use plastic anymore and “packaging-free delivery” in over 100 cities in India. “Packaging-free delivery” refers to delivering packages in their original packaging.

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