Public opinion research sponsored by Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation organization, shows Amazon customers are buying more online due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, are overwhelmingly concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the oceans, and want major online retailers including Amazon to give them plastic-free packaging choices. This concern and support were highest among Amazon’s best customers – Prime members and those who shop most often online. Oceana announced today it is launching a campaign calling on Amazon to offer its customers plastic-free packaging choices.
“Jeff Bezos and Amazon say they are obsessed with meeting the needs of their customers. It’s clear from the results of our survey that what Amazon customers want is for the company to do the right thing and offer plastic-free options at checkout” said Matt Littlejohn, Senior Vice President of Oceana adding that “Amazon can make a difference for its customers and the oceans by doing this: this is a company that, according to recent news reports, shipped several billion packages in 2019, many packed with plastic.”
“This is a company led by a CEO Jeff Bezos who is investing in space exploration and that is testing using drones to deliver stuff to our houses,” he added. “They surely have the ability to figure out how to offer plastic-free alternatives.”
Amazon’s packaging and materials lab have created lightweight plastic-free packaging, including a new mailer that the company reports have been used 100 million times. The company is known for its innovation in logistics and delivery technology and has made commitments to protect the environment, including a pledge to be zero carbon by 2040. Further, Amazon recently announced it eliminated non-recyclable plastic in packaging across its Fulfilment Centers in India.
“Amazon has the technical ability, with its fulfillment centers, to offer plastic-free alternatives to its customers, reduce plastic and help protect the oceans and environment,” noted former Amazon executive and consultant Rachel Johnson Greer. “It is really a question of will.”
YouGov polled 1,286 individuals in the U.S. as part of its omnibus survey on behalf of Oceana and 78% reported shopping on Amazon. The survey found that 85% of Amazon customers are concerned about plastic pollution, 71% would use a plastic-free choice/alternative packaging if offered, 53% of Amazon customers surveyed reported buying more online because of COVID-19 and 43% reported that they were bothered by the extra plastic packaging they are receiving due to the acceleration of online shopping related to the pandemic.
The concern and support were even higher among those who report being Amazon Prime members with 86% of this group expressing concern about plastic pollution and 73% agreeing that they would use a plastic-free choice/alternative packaging if offered. Prime customers who reported buying most often online (more than once a week) were the most concerned (89%) about plastic pollution. Oceana also sponsored surveys of consumers in the United Kingdom (with YouGov) and in Canada (with Abacus Data) that showed similar and, in some cases, stronger concern about plastic pollution and support for plastic-free choices.
Oceana is calling on online shoppers and ocean activists to ask Amazon for plastic-free options at checkout by adding their names to Change.org/PlasticFreeChoice, a petition created by Oceana supporter Nicole Delma. Nearly 500,000 people have already added their name to the petition. “The survey echoes what I’ve heard from so many other Amazon customers who have signed the petition,” said Ms. Delma. “People want to be able to buy from Amazon and avoid plastic. It makes them feel terrible when that package they’ve been anxiously waiting for arrives stuffed with plastic.”
In 2019, according to news accounts, Amazon shipped approximately 7 billion packages worldwide[i] – which would be equivalent to nearly one package for every person living on earth. These packages are often packaged with plastic, which can end up in the oceans and devastate marine life. “Plastic is a major source of pollution for the world’s oceans, with 17.6 billion pounds entering the sea every year[ii] – the equivalent of a garbage truck worth dumped into the ocean every minute. Recent studies found that 90% of all seabird species[iii] and100% of all sea turtles[iv] investigated have ingested plastic. Only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled[v],” added Littlejohn.
To access the complete survey results for the U.S., UK, and Canada, please visit www.oceana.org/PlasticFreeAmazon. To view the petition go to Change.org/PlasticFreeChoice. To find out about Oceana’s campaign to reduce plastics, go to www.oceana.org/plastics.
[i] Amazon, announced that it delivered 3.5 billion packages through its own delivery systems in 2019. Amazon spokespeople were quoted– in subsequent stories in Vox, US News and other outlets – that this represented “approximately half” of the company’s global shipping volume (and the rest was shipped through other carriers, like UPS).
[ii] Jambeck JR, Geyer R, Wilcox C, Siegler TR, Perryman M, Andrady A, Narayan R and Law KL (2015) Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science. 347: 768-771. doi: 10.1126/ science.1260352
[iii] Wilcox C, van Sebille E and Hardesty BD (2015) Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive and increasing. PNAS 112: 11899-11904. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1502108112; Kuhn S, Bravo Rebolledo EL and van Franeker JA (2015) Deleterious Effects of Litter on Marine Life. In: Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Cham: Spinger International Publishing.
[iv] Duncan, Emily M, Broderick, Annette C, Fuller, Wayne J, Galloway, Tamara S, Godfrey, Matthew H, Hamann, Mark, Limpus, Colin J, Lindeque, Penelope K, Mayes, Andrew G, Omeyer, Lucy C M, Santillo, David, Snape, Robin T E, Godley, Brendan J (2018) Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles. Global Change Biology. Feb 2019: Vol. 25, Issue 2. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14519. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.14519
[v] Geyer R, Jambeck JR and Law KL (2017) Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances 19 Jul 2017:Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782. Available at: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782