Will new curbside-recyclable insulated packaging give Amazon a sustainable grocery edge?
Amazon.com is launching new curbside-recyclable insulated packaging that the company says does away with the need to use bubble bags or plastic liners.
Stephenie Landry, vice president, Amazon Grocery, writing on the company’s blog, claims that the new packaging will have a positive environmental impact.
“Moving to all curbside-recyclable insulation packaging reduces material waste, and each year replaces approximately 735,000 pounds of plastic film, 3.15 million pounds of natural cotton fiber and 15 million pounds of non-recyclable mixed plastic,” she wrote. “The new packaging is also produced regionally in the U.S., enabling us to deliver it to Amazon Fresh grocery hubs, stores and Whole Foods Market locations with fewer miles traveled across the supply chain.”
Ms. Landry said that the packaging was well received by customers during testing, not only for being more environmentally friendly, but because it works at keeping frozen and refrigerated items as cold as they are intended to be.
Joe Rake, a senior program manager on the grocery delivery packaging team, headed up the project for Amazon. He said the new packaging was developed in-house because the company couldn’t find a viable solution from third-party providers that met Amazon’s “physical, thermal and design criteria.”
The packaging’s design was modeled on “recycled paper tissue layering that’s relatively common in the moving and packing industry but that we reinvented for our grocery delivery customers,” said Mr. Rake.
Amazon tested the new packaging in internal and external laboratories in the U.S. and Europe to “validate” that it would keep products at the proper temperature throughout the time it took to deliver orders to customers’ homes.
The company moved its testing out of controlled environments to begin pilots in 2020 in select markets and “under a variety of temperature scenarios,” said Mr. Rake.
“As we slowly rolled this out, our food safety team conducted secret-shopper programs to validate the thermal effectiveness of the packaging,” he said. “We also paid very close attention to customer feedback along with employee feedback on how to best pack orders using the new packaging.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect Amazon’s new packaging to be popular with its customers? Do you expect Amazon’s grocery competitors to follow suit and reverse engineer its packaging or develop their own environmentally friendlier alternatives?