RELEASE: Call for Amazon to ‘break up with plastic packaging’ this Valentine’s Day

Media Contacts
Pam Clough

Former Advocate, Environment Washington

SEATTLE — Advocates from U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Student PIRGs gathered outside Amazon headquarters in Seattle on Monday to call on the e-commerce company to “break up with plastic.” Organizers and volunteers handed out valentines to employees and passers-by and delivered 97,555 petitions urging Amazon to eliminate single-use plastic packaging in U.S. shipments.

“They say love is forever, but so is plastic. We’re here to say that this Valentine’s Day, it’s time for Amazon to break up with plastic,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director at CALPIRG Education Fund. “Let’s face it — our relationship with plastics is toxic. Plastic will stay with you through thick and thin, which sounds romantic until you consider that all that plastic packaging ends up littering our communities and polluting our environment for hundreds of years. That’s why we’re urging Amazon to stop using single-use plastic packaging here in the U.S.”

According to an Oceana report from December, Amazon generated 709 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2021, up 18% from the year prior. With the continued growth of online shopping, plastic packaging from e-commerce is estimated to double by 2026.

“Nearly every time we buy something online, we’re confronted with a pile of plastic mailing envelopes, air pillows, bubble wrap and foam,” said Engstrom.  “We discard almost all of that plastic packaging immediately after opening a package, then it quickly becomes part of our plastic waste crisis.”

Most single-use plastic packaging used for online purchases is not recycled, but rather is landfilled, burned in incinerators, or breaks into small pieces in the environment. Micro-plastics have even been found nearly every corner of the globe, as well as human bodies, potentially exposing people to harmful impacts.

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our environment for hundreds of years,” said Pam Clough, advocate with Environment Washington Research & Policy Center. “For a bird, fish or whale, it’s easy to mistake a small piece of plastic for food—especially when there are millions of pieces of plastic floating in our rivers and ocean. Too often, ingesting this plastic is fatal for wildlife. To protect our wildlife from these dangers, we need major corporations such as Amazon to reduce the amount of plastic used in the first place.”

Recyclable and biodegradable alternatives to single-use plastic packaging are available and companies across the U.S., including Amazon, already use substitutes. Amazon has also already committed to stop using single-use plastic packaging in Germany and India. That’s why organizers and volunteers are hopeful that public outcry about the harms of plastic waste can get the company to act here.

“The future of our planet depends on actions we take now to address the growing plastics crisis,” said Bailey Cunningham, Beyond Plastic Campaign coordinator with WashPIRG Students. “Our generation wants a future without the threat of microplastics in our food, a future free from harmful pollution in our ecosystems and communities. To protect the environment, we must end the production of harmful plastic waste. We’re looking to Amazon to take the first steps by reducing single-use plastic.”