Shopping Discussion

Online Shopping and Packaging Waste

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  • Apr 11th, 2019 4:08 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 20, 2010
1834 posts
1050 upvotes

Online Shopping and Packaging Waste

With the increase of online shopping, there's no denying the amount of waste it creates. I'm no tree hugger, but this can't be sustainable. Retail packaging is already bad enough. For example, I buy snacks for my son and it's already individually packaged, double packaged, lot packaged, then the retail box. Now I order this online, on top of the retail packaging, it may come with a full sheet packing slip, the shipping label (and the peel away), box, tape, paper or air bag stuffer. I try to reuse or recycle where I can, but it almost makes me sick when I see the amount of garbage I take out every week.

As the popularity of online shopping increases, what can be done?
49 replies
Deal Fanatic
Nov 15, 2008
8949 posts
3298 upvotes
On anything with a hard outer box, Amazon gives you the option of just putting a shipping label on it or putting it in a box that hides the content. Local recycling can handle a lot of that waste but I am chagrined to discover that bubble wrap is non-recyclable. I always fold it up and save it for later use. Bubble pillows are recyclable if you pop them all. Some shippers use brown kraft paper instead which is recyclable or reusable.
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Feb 11, 2007
15110 posts
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Oakville
eclone wrote: With the increase of online shopping, there's no denying the amount of waste it creates. I'm no tree hugger, but this can't be sustainable. Retail packaging is already bad enough. For example, I buy snacks for my son and it's already individually packaged, double packaged, lot packaged, then the retail box. Now I order this online, on top of the retail packaging, it may come with a full sheet packing slip, the shipping label (and the peel away), box, tape, paper or air bag stuffer. I try to reuse or recycle where I can, but it almost makes me sick when I see the amount of garbage I take out every week.

As the popularity of online shopping increases, what can be done?
The gov't should have a tax based on the amount of packaging, especially non-recyclable stuff. But people like to complain about garbage, but at the same time complain about a tax that could incentivize reduction and also pay for the recycling of said packaging.
Basically like the e-waste tax. Or the cigarette/booze taxes. Or the carbon tax for fossil fuels.
lecale wrote: On anything with a hard outer box, Amazon gives you the option of just putting a shipping label on it or putting it in a box that hides the content. Local recycling can handle a lot of that waste but I am chagrined to discover that bubble wrap is non-recyclable. I always fold it up and save it for later use. Bubble pillows are recyclable if you pop them all. Some shippers use brown kraft paper instead which is recyclable or reusable.
There is? Where can I find it?
Deal Fanatic
Nov 15, 2008
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engineered wrote: There is? Where can I find it?
It shows up under the price on eligible products, e.g., this is from a 24-pack of popcorn. If you want it in an Amazon box you have to choose the gift option, so it is the default option.

nopacking.jpg
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Feb 11, 2007
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lecale wrote: It shows up under the price on eligible products, e.g., this is from a 24-pack of popcorn. If you want it in an Amazon box you have to choose the gift option, so it is the default option.


nopacking.jpg
Thanks. I guess I'm not ordering any eligible stuff.

Sometimes it arrives like this, with the boxes but all smashed so they fell out of the boxes. This was on the recent battery deal where I'm sure the shippers were pissed that RFD ordered 5 million batteries in one day, lol.

Image
Deal Fanatic
Nov 15, 2008
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engineered wrote: Sometimes it arrives like this, with the boxes but all smashed so they fell out of the boxes. This was on the recent battery deal where I'm sure the shippers were pissed that RFD ordered 5 million batteries in one day, lol.
Wow. When you recycle batteries here you have to wrap every single one in a plastic bag or cling wrap to prevent a fire. (City program, in the end they just bury them encased in concrete.)
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 20, 2010
1834 posts
1050 upvotes
lecale wrote: It shows up under the price on eligible products, e.g., this is from a 24-pack of popcorn. If you want it in an Amazon box you have to choose the gift option, so it is the default option.
Thanks, I tried with a couple items, but it didn't give me that option. It's good to know and I'll keep an eye out for it in the future.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 20, 2010
1834 posts
1050 upvotes
engineered wrote: The gov't should have a tax based on the amount of packaging, especially non-recyclable stuff. But people like to complain about garbage, but at the same time complain about a tax that could incentivize reduction and also pay for the recycling of said packaging.
Basically like the e-waste tax. Or the cigarette/booze taxes. Or the carbon tax for fossil fuels.
Agreed. I'm ok with this. It's no different than single use bag fee. It won't deter online shopping, but it will have people be more mindful in consolidating orders rather than ordering one thing at a time especially with Prime.
Member
Mar 20, 2016
385 posts
291 upvotes
Vancouver
Thats the worst part about ordering a small item on Amazon, they will put it in a huge bubble envelope which cannot easily be recycled. Even if you order multiple items they will often do this.
They used to be a lot better with the cardboard "frustration free" packaging, not sure what happened to that. I'm sure a paper or renewable alternative would be available.
lecale wrote: Wow. When you recycle batteries here you have to wrap every single one in a plastic bag or cling wrap to prevent a fire. (City program, in the end they just bury them encased in concrete.)
They should be recycled as they have high value metals inside. I don't think there is much risk of fire for alkalines, maybe for lithium if its fully charged. The amazon ones are wrapped in plastic (4pc).
Newbie
Mar 4, 2019
7 posts
4 upvotes
I have been talking about this for years since Amazon got popular, and it's only gotten worse. I have been happy to see "amazon day" become available to me in shipping options (maybe only in select regions?) so that they deliver everything together once per week on the day of my choosing. I haven't tested it yet but hope that means it will be packaged together for less waste. But I know that part of the problem is how many different vendors are fulfilling. Has anyone tried the pickup boxes? Might be similar waste but maybe at least less waste on the part of transportation and distribution. I personally think it is a huge privacy violation to display on the outside of the box what I've ordered.
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Jan 7, 2002
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Waterloo, ON
eclone wrote: As the popularity of online shopping increases, what can be done?
1. Amazon sells a lot of stuff with generic cardboard packaging instead of the usual "retail" packaging. This applies in particular to stuff like AmazonBasics products as well as to third party products that are sold mostly or exclusively online (e.g. Anker computer/phone accessories.) Cardboard is easier to recycle than most other materials like plastics. And even if not recycled, unlike plastics, cardboard is biodegradable.

2. We could require that in Canada, as In Europe, "Packaging producers to pay full recycling costs under waste scheme | Environment | The Guardian." The linked article talks about the UK but similar regimes have existed in other EU countries going back nearly three decades, e.g. the German (Green Dot program.)
veni, vidi, Visa
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Aug 22, 2006
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The 2 day shipping thing is basically biting them in the ass.
Sure it's great for me when I want something now, but the downside is that when I order a bunch of stuff in a week, some stuff shows up in 1 day, the other in 2 days. Then when I remember something else I want, it's a 3rd set of packages on the "4th" day.

So. Many. Boxes.
Also bubble mailers.
bylo wrote: 1. Amazon sells a lot of stuff with generic cardboard packaging instead of the usual "retail" packaging.
That's the one thing I like about Amazon. They're big enough to ask some manufacturers for custom packaging.
I quite like the frustration free packaging because it's frustration free.
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Nov 15, 2008
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bylo wrote: Cardboard is easier to recycle than most other materials like plastics. And even if not recycled, unlike plastics, cardboard is biodegradable.
Cardboard is (still) worth money, unlike plastics, which China will no longer buy.
bylo wrote: 2. We could require that in Canada, as In Europe, "Packaging producers to pay full recycling costs under waste scheme | Environment | The Guardian." The linked article talks about the UK but similar regimes have existed in other EU countries going back nearly three decades, e.g. the German (Green Dot program.)
Other 1st world countries (to include Japan) have an incredible amount of buy-in from their citizens compared to N. America. Here people fight for their right to have plastic bags or other packaging as long as they can afford it. The last time I was in Germany was over a decade ago but people were expected to bring their glass to a depot and sort it by colour, and return drink containers to the exact same store they bought it from, even if it was a convenience store or gas bar on their way. When I was in Japan was also as long ago and they had curbside electronics pickup (well I guess we sort of have the same with street scavengers:)) and a phenomenal number of recycling categories. Try telling people here to do all that sorting and hauling!
Deal Expert
Jan 7, 2002
21035 posts
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lecale wrote: The last time I was in Germany was over a decade ago but people were expected to bring their glass to a depot and sort it by colour
Similar practices are also followed in many other EU countries too. For example in Austria and Switzerland (not 100% sure about Germany) people take all recyclables, glass, paper, cardboard, etc. to neighbourhood recycling areas (sort of like our community mail boxes) where they sort and bin each item by type.

Speaking more generally of reduce, reuse, recycle, imagine how much energy and pollution we could save if we didn't have recycling trucks roll to every home to pick up recycling but instead could go only to recycling depots and to grocery stores.
return drink containers to the exact same store they bought it from, even if it was a convenience store or gas bar on their way
Grocery stores generally have machines that take back such containers and print out vouchers that can be redeemed on the next purchase.
Try telling people here to do all that sorting and hauling!
[removed]
But yeah, here in NA we like to talk the talk but we won't walk the walk (in this case literally.)
Last edited by Mars2012 on Mar 22nd, 2019 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: reported/political content removed
veni, vidi, Visa
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death_hawk wrote: The 2 day shipping thing is basically biting them in the ass.
Sure it's great for me when I want something now, but the downside is that when I order a bunch of stuff in a week, some stuff shows up in 1 day, the other in 2 days. Then when I remember something else I want, it's a 3rd set of packages on the "4th" day.

So. Many. Boxes.
Also bubble mailers.



That's the one thing I like about Amazon. They're big enough to ask some manufacturers for custom packaging.
I quite like the frustration free packaging because it's frustration free.
Agreed, they really should allow us to buy, then ship all together when we want, or at the end of the week or something.

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