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Amazon aims to replace 100% of plastic air pillows in delivery packaging with paper filler by the end of the year. | Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

Amazon will send 15 billion fewer plastic pillows into the waste stream after replacing 95% of its product protection system with paper in North America, the company recently announced. 

The e-commerce giant aims to reach 100% replacement of the plastic air pillows by the end of the year.

“We’re constantly inventing and thinking big to make our packaging small,” a press release stated. “We want to ensure that customers receive their items undamaged, while using as little packaging as possible to avoid waste, and prioritizing recyclable materials.”

The move is Amazon’s largest plastic packaging reduction effort in North America to date. It tested the move at an automated fulfillment center in Ohio before rolling out on a wider scale. The paper filler is made of 100% recycled content, the press release noted, and is recyclable curbside. 

Amazon has also been working to ship items without excess packaging – in 2022, 11% of all packages shipped by Amazon globally were sent without added Amazon delivery packaging. 

The company noted it has also partnered with AI and robotics company Glacier to pilot AI-powered robots to sort recyclables. 

Pat Lindner, Amazon vice president of mechatronics and sustainable packaging, said in the press release that the work is “a great example of how we thoughtfully test and scale new solutions to protect our customer experience,” and Amazon will “continue to innovate, test and scale in order to prioritize curbside recyclable materials.”

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