As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the number of customers ordering from Amazon is continuing to increase dramatically. Knowing this, here’s the new issue to consider: are all these packages being disposed of correctly?
In the last year, Amazon’s net sales accelerated by 38% to $386.1 billion, in comparison to the $280.5 billion they earned in 2019. While online shopping is currently most suitable for convenience and safety, with every Amazon order comes several different types of packaging.
Although Amazon does provide recycling guidelines and instructions, the website isn’t exhaustive as it doesn’t include a list of complete recycling options that work for all areas where people live. For example, some recycling programs don’t offer to dispose of plastic film and the burden is still placed on customers to manage their enormous packaging footprint.
It’s great how Amazon packages items to prevent damage, however most people throw foam, air pillows and plastic packaging in the trash where it doesn’t belong. Keep reading to learn ways you can help the environment by appropriately disposing of all types of amazon packaging!
A Brief Breakdown of Recyclable Materials
It’s a well-known fact that carboard and paper are 2 of the easiest materials to recycle. However, people often forget this important detail: plain brown cardboard is compostable, while paper and carboard with colour or a glossy finish should be recycled instead of composted.
Recycling plastic is where it gets difficult – there are several different types of plastics that require their own unique processes:
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
This type of plastic is one of the easiest to recycle and is usually used for items such as containers and bottles that hold cleaners and nut butters, jars, clothing, industrial strapping, rope, automotive parts, fiberfill for winter jackets, sleeping bags, construction materials and protective packaging. Make sure to wash all food containers before recycling them! It’s not likely that you’ll find a recycling company who won’t accept PET.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
HDPE is another plastic that’s convenient to recycle! This material is typically used a wide range of products including snack food packages, cereal box liners, milk and non-carbonated beverage bottles, margarine, whipped topping, deli food packaging and bread trays. Again, make sure to rinse these items prior to tossing them in your recycling bin!
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Unfortunately, PVC is not simple to recycle due to the additives that are part of the creation of the plastic. Items that contain PVC are usually shower curtains, rigid pipes, wire insulation, flooring, medical devices, cables, stationary, automotive interiors and seat coverings, footwear and packaging.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Often, districts don’t willingly recycle LDPE! This plastic is typically used for manufacturing a variety of containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, plastic bags and plastic film.
The only way to keep items with PP plastic from the trash is to repurpose them – this plastic isn’t usually recycled. Common items made from PP plastic include reusable water bottles, medical supplies, outdoor furniture, toys, luggage, car parts, straws, deli containers and baby bottles.
Recycling centres occasionally accept PS, but it’s not common due to the higher cost of disposing these materials. Some items that contain PS are Styrofoam, foam packing peanuts, CD and DVD cases, meat/poultry trays and egg cartons.
Products made from a compilation of different plastics are hardest to recycle. This typically includes plastic cutlery, baby bottles, reusable water bottles and lids.
Recycling Amazon Packaging
Shipping materials from Amazon packages often include cardboard, paper, and/or low-density polyethylene. Depending on the product, it also comes with other unique protective packaging. Here are the best practices for how to recycle these items:
Padded envelopes made from paper fibres are recyclable, similar to cardboard boxes and other paper items. If you’re wondering, this also applies to Amazon’s newest mailers that are created with a high-tech form of padding made by heating glue into a puffy white sheet. Place them in your blue bin for curbside pick-up and make sure that you’re following municipality guidelines.
You can also compost padded envelopes, however, if you do this then you have to remove any tape or sticky labels first!
Air pillows contain plastic film, which makes them harder to recycle. We suggest you deflate the air pillow and bring them to a nearby drop-off location that accepts them!
Brown Packaging Paper
Place all brown packaging paper in the recycling! To save space, make sure to fold it up before throwing it in your blue bin. Leave it curbside or bring it to a pick-up facility. For those composting at home, another option is to shred the packaging paper and add it to the same bin as your grass clippings and food scraps.
Do you own a charcoal grill or wood stove? If so, a unique way to reuse the brown packaging paper is by using it to help light charcoal or kindling.
Don’t place bubble wrap in the recycling bin! Instead, find a nearby facility that can take bubble wrap. An even better environmentally friendly solution would be to donate the bubble wrap to someone who needs it! This is especially useful for people in your life who may be moving homes and need extra packaging to transfer personal items.
Bubble-Lined Plastic Mailer or Plastic Bags
Rules about recycling bubble-lined or plastic mailers and plastic bags vary from region to region. Amazon suggests to visit this website, enter your postal code and search for the nearest drop off location that accepts plastic film, a material found in these mailers.
Bubble-Lined Paper Mailer
Paper Mailers with bubble lining should always be put in the trash. Don’t put these in the recycling!
Cardboard Boxes and Bottom Boards
Amazon’s cardboard boxes and bottom boards are meant for the recycling bin! Before placing a cardboard box in your curbside bin, make sure to cut them into the appropriate size in accordance with the guidelines provided by your waste district. If you deliver them to the recycling centre personally, you may not have to cut the boxes down. These are also compostable, as long as you remove any tape or sticky labels.
Other Miscellaneous Items That Can’t be Recycled:
- Gel Packs
- Dry Ice Plastic Film
- Foil Bubble Insulation Bag
- Amazon Fresh Dry Ice Pouch
- Produce Bags
- Shrink Wrap
Working Together to Maintain a Clean and Ecological Planet
We all share the responsibility of maintaining a clean and ecological planet. What we do today directly impacts our future. Even taking small steps can allow you to make a sustainable difference!
At Manville, we work to be part of the difference by collecting waste and decreasing the size of our landfills by making use of our existing resources. Most importantly, we’re passionate about educating those around us to work towards preserving our tomorrow! Not sure where you can dispose your items? Contact us!