Public opinion research sponsored by Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation organization, shows Amazon customers are buying more online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are overwhelmingly concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the oceans, and want major online retailers including Amazon to give them plastic-free packaging choices. In response to these findings and the growing ocean plastic pollution crisis, Oceana in Canada, the U.S and the UK announced today it is launching a campaign calling on Amazon to offer its customers plastic-free packaging choices.
“Jeff Bezos credits Amazon’s success to an ‘obsessive’ focus on its customers. It’s clear that these customers – which, according to this research, includes 78 per cent of Canadians – want Amazon to do the right thing and offer plastic-free options at checkout,” said Josh Laughren, Executive Director, Oceana Canada. “Canadians want to end the plastic disaster, and according to recent news reports, Amazon shipped several billion packages in 2019, many packed with plastic. By doing this, Amazon can make a real difference for its customers and for our oceans.”
“Amazon is one of the world’s most innovative companies. It will soon start using drones to deliver items to our houses and is led by a CEO who is planning humanity’s expansion into space,” he added. “Surely Amazon can find a way to offer its customers plastic-free alternatives.”
Amazon’s packaging and materials labs have created lightweight plastic-free packaging, including a new mailer that the company reports has been used 100 million times. The company is known for its innovation in logistics and delivery technology and has made commitments to protect the environment, including a pledge to be zero carbon by 2040. Further, Amazon recently announced it eliminated non-recyclable plastic in packaging across its fulfilment centres in India.
“Amazon has the technical ability with its fulfilment centres to offer plastic-free alternatives to its customers, reduce plastic and help protect the oceans and the environment,” said former Amazon executive and consultant Rachel Johnson Greer. “It is really a question of will.”
Abacus Data polled 1,800 Canadians in June 2020 on behalf of Oceana Canada and 78 per cent reported shopping on Amazon. The survey found that of the Amazon customers:
- 89 per cent are concerned or very concerned about plastic pollution;
- 79 per cent would use plastic-free choice/alternative packaging if offered;
- 52 per cent reported buying more online because of COVID-19;
- 47 per cent are bothered by the extra packaging they are receiving due to the increase in COVID-19-related online shopping; and
- 37 per cent would shop at online retailers that offer plastic-free packaging.
The concern and support were even higher among those who report being Amazon Prime members, with 81 per cent of this group agreeing they would use a plastic-free choice or alternative packaging if offered, 53 per cent being bothered by the extra packaging they are receiving and 40 per cent would shop at online retailers that offer plastic-free packaging. Oceana also sponsored surveys of consumers in the U.S. and the UK with YouGov that showed similar and, in some cases, stronger concern about plastic pollution and support for plastic-free choices.
Oceana is calling on online shoppers and ocean activists to ask Amazon for plastic-free options at checkout by adding their names to Change.org/PlasticFreeChoice, a petition created by Oceana supporter Nicole Delma. Almost 500,000 people have already added their name to the petition. “The survey echoes what I’ve heard from so many other Amazon customers who have signed the petition,” said Ms. Delma. “People want to be able to buy from Amazon and avoid plastic. It makes them feel terrible when that package they’ve been waiting for arrives stuffed with plastic.”
In 2019, according to news accounts, Amazon shipped approximately seven billion packages worldwide1, equivalent to nearly one package for every person living on earth. These packages are often packaged with plastic, which can end up in the oceans and devastate marine life.
Plastic is a major source of pollution for the world’s oceans, with eight million tonnes entering the sea every year2 – equivalent to a garbage truck worth dumped into the ocean every minute. Recent studies found that 90 per cent of all seabird species3 and 100 per cent of all sea turtles investigated4 have ingested plastic. Only nine per cent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled5.
To access the complete survey results for Canada, the U.S. and the UK, and to the view the petition, please visit www.oceana.org/PlasticFreeAmazon. To find out about Oceana Canada’s campaign to reduce plastics, go to http://www.oceana.ca/Plastics.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world.
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future.
1 Amazon, announced that it delivered 3.5 billion packages through its own delivery systems in 2019. Amazon spokespeople were quoted– in subsequent stories in Vox, US News and other outlets – that this represented “approximately half” of the company’s global shipping volume (and the rest was shipped through other carriers, like UPS).
2 Jambeck JR, Geyer R, Wilcox C, Siegler TR, Perryman M, Andrady A, Narayan R and Law KL (2015) Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science. 347: 768-771. doi: 10.1126/ science.1260352
3 Wilcox C, van Sebille E and Hardesty BD (2015) Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive and increasing. PNAS 112: 11899-11904. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1502108112; Kuhn S, Bravo Rebolledo EL and van Franeker JA (2015) Deleterious Effects of Litter on Marine Life. In: Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Cham: Spinger International Publishing.
4 Duncan, Emily M, Broderick, Annette C, Fuller, Wayne J, Galloway, Tamara S, Godfrey, Matthew H, Hamann, Mark, Limpus, Colin J, Lindeque, Penelope K, Mayes, Andrew G, Omeyer, Lucy C M, Santillo, David, Snape, Robin T E, Godley, Brendan J (2018) Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles. Global Change Biology. Feb 2019: Vol. 25, Issue 2. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14519. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.14519
5 Geyer R, Jambeck JR and Law KL (2017) Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances 19 Jul 2017:Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782. Available at: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782