Amazon ditches the plastic air pillows in its boxes

  • Amazon said the change will help it use nearly 15 billion fewer plastic pillows annually.
  • The paper fillers are made from 100% recyclable materials and are curbside recyclable.

This initiative not only showcases Amazon’s positive progress in sustainability, but also helps to reduce the potential harm caused by plastic waste to the environment and wildlife, setting a good example for other companies in the industry.

–Revel Cheng, BTW reporter

Amazon said Thursday it has removed 95% of the plastic air pillows from its packaging in North America

What happened

Amazon said Thursday it has removed 95% of the plastic air pillows from its packaging in North America and will replace them with paper fillers made from 100% recycled content.

The pillows are made from plastic film, which scientists have found is the most common form of plastic litter in the sea and seabed close to the shore. Plastic film can be deadly to wildlife including sea turtles and sea birds. And unlike paper alternatives, plastic film generally can’t be composted or recycled in curbside programs.

This change will eliminate almost 15 billion plastic air pillows annually, according to Amazon. Unlike the old packaging, paper filler is made with 100 percent recycled content, which should allow customers to easily recycle the material at home. Amazon says the paper filler “offers the same, if not better, protection.”

It marks Amazon’s largest plastic-packaging reduction effort and will help it remove nearly 15 billion plastic pillows annually.

Also read: California fines Amazon $5.9M for unsafe work quotas

Also read: Decoding the value proposition of Amazon Web Services

Why it’s important

Despite switching from single-use plastic delivery bags in Europe and India as well as using made-to-fit paper packaging in Australia and Japan, Amazon has been slow to make the transition to paper in the US. Last year, Amazon ditched plastic packaging at a warehouse in Ohio, replacing plastic bubble mailers and air pillows with recyclable paper packaging.

“We are working towards full removal in North America by end of year and will continue to innovate, test, and scale in order to prioritize curbside recyclable materials,” VP of Mechatronics and Sustainable Packaging Pat Lindner said in the announcement.

Oceana, the ocean conservancy group that has long sparred with Amazon over its plastic use, called the move “welcome news for the oceans and the company’s customers.” But it called for further reductions in single-use packaging, like the padded plastic envelopes that Amazon continues to use.


Revel Cheng

Revel Cheng is an intern news reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and Blockchain. She graduated from Nanning Normal University. Send tips to

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