Amazon launches box ‘grouping’ service to slash packaging and emissions

Amazon claims that a trial of the scheme in Washington State avoided the use of "tens of thousands" of cardboard boxes

Called ‘Amazon Day’, the service will let the online retailer’s Prime customers in the US select a specific day when all of their orders will arrive on any given week.

This will enable Amazon to instruct distribution centre workers to package multiple products, which are typically sent on different days and in different boxes, in one cardboard container.

The company claims that this service will help to make its deliveries in the US “more predictable and efficient”, reducing the amount of packaging and logistics emissions related to its core operations. A further benefit of the service, according to Amazon’s delivery experience director Maria Renz, will be lower rates of parcel thefts from porches and doorsteps.

The launch of Amazon Day follows a successful trial of the concept among Amazon Prime customers in Washington State, where the retailer is headquartered.

“We’ve been testing this programme with a group of Prime members and Amazon Day has already reduced packaging by tens of thousands of boxes – a number that will only continue to grow now that it is available nationwide,” Renz said.

The move builds on Amazon’s ‘ship in your own container’ scheme, which saw the retailer encourage brands it stocks to send goods without an overbox or extra packaging. Launched last September, Amazon claims the initiative could deliver reductions of up to 50% in shipping volume and packaging use within its first year.

Amazon has also worked with several of its key suppliers and stockists in recent times to help reduce the amount of packaging used and wasted within its operations.

One of its largest collaborative initiatives with consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) resulted in the creation of a new ‘eco box’ for laundry products, which ships in its own container and features thinner plastic walls plus a more concentrated formula. These features mean that the product uses 60% less packaging and 30% less water, making it four pounds lighter than traditional alternatives.

Shipment zero

As for transport emissions, the launch of the ‘Amazon Day’ service follows on from Amazon’s newly unveiled ‘shipment zero’ initiative, which includes a headline aim of making 50% of the retailer’s deliveries “net-zero” carbon by 2030.

To achieve this aim, the company will invest in electric vehicle (EV) research and development and expand its EV delivery fleet, while researching methods of improving fuel efficiency within its delivery system.

It will also invest in low-carbon maritime and aviation technologies, including biofuels for jet planes, while paying for carbon credits to offset the remainder of its transport-related emissions.

Given that Amazon globally ships around 1.6 million packages per day, achieving the 2030 target will be no mean feat. The company’s senior vice president Dave Clark said it “wouldn’t be easy” to meet the ambition, but that Amazon would be “focused and stubborn” when seeing it through.

Sarah George

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