Are Amazon Packages Recyclable? (We Checked)

With increasing environmental concerns, many companies are implementing sustainable and eco-friendly practices in their business plans and strategies.

Companies are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact, from recycled plastic to decreasing their carbon footprint, by using eco-friendly and recyclable materials for packaging.

One may wonder what steps Amazon takes to address sustainability and lessen its environmental impact.

Can you recycle Amazon packages?

Here’s What You Can Do with Amazon Packages:

Amazon packages are typically made of cardboard, which means they are fully recyclable. As long as you flatten them, most recycling programs will take them. According to the e-commerce company, every part of Amazon packaging, from the shipping box to the packing tape, is completely recyclable.

Are Amazon’s Cardboard Boxes Made from Recycled Materials?

Now you may be curious to know if Amazon uses cardboard boxes that are made from recycled materials. Regarding that, we can’t be sure.

Nowhere on Amazon’s website says that the cardboard boxes are made from recycled materials. However, these boxes are paper-based, so you can completely recycle them.

Everything on an Amazon package can be recycled, from the cardboard box down to the black packaging tape used to seal the box.

That’s because all these are paper-based. Most curbside recycling programs will take them.

Even if there’s no way to tell if Amazon boxes are derived from recycled materials, the company has taken extra steps to reduce plastic waste and lessen its adverse environmental effects.

Here are some initiatives by Amazon:

Reducing Plastic Packaging

In the e-commerce industry, a huge percentage of plastic waste comes from plastic packaging used to ship orders.

Amazon came up with a solution to this by reducing the use of plastic in its packing materials.

Instead of using bubble mailers made from plastic, Amazon is now using paper-padded envelope mailers made from paper, so they are fully recyclable while still doing a good job of protecting the items inside.

Since not all items can be safely carried inside a paper-based envelope mailer, and it’s still a challenge to eliminate the use of plastic,

Amazon has changed the composition of its single-use plastic packaging. The new composition now uses less material and contains more recycled components.

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Introducing Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP).

To reduce the overall use of packaging materials, Amazon also introduced the FFP program.

This program allows products that already come in their own boxes or packaging to be shipped without needing an Amazon over-box.

For example, if you’re ordering a tablet, which already comes in its own box, you can opt for FFP so that it won’t come in an Amazon box. This eliminates the need for more boxes and helps waste.

This also makes your Amazon package easier to open.

What About the Bubble-Lined Plastic Padding?

A bubble-lined plastic padding is a type of packaging that Amazon uses for smaller items that don’t need a box.

The bubble lining adds cushioning so that the items inside are protected.

According to Amazon, the single-use plastic packaging they use for packages has an improved composition.

While they’re still made of plastic material, the amount of plastic used is less. Plus, more recycled components are added.

That said, you can recycle these bubble-lined plastic padding. Any recycling program in your city that accepts plastic should take Amazon plastic padding.

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Are All Types of Amazon Packaging Recyclable?

Amazon uses different types of packaging for different types of products.

While some products need cardboard boxes to safely get them shipped, envelope mailers may be sufficient for other products.

Most types of Amazon packaging are recyclable.

Here’s how you can recycle different types of Amazon packaging:

Cardboard Boxes and Folders

Amazon cardboard boxes and folders, including Amazon Fresh cardboard boxes, can be recycled as most curbside recycling programs will accept them.

These programs only require that you flatten cardboard boxes and remove any type before you set them out for recycling.

If you have several boxes for recycling, it’s also best to tie them together with strong twine so they are easier to collect.

You can also reuse these boxes for many things.

You can use them for storage or pack items when you’re moving. You can also use these boxes to ship through USPS if you remove or cover any labels or markings on them.

Paper Envelope

Amazon paper envelopes can be recycled.

Most curbside recycling programs will also accept them.

Paper-Padded Envelope Mailer

Paper-padded envelope mailers used by Amazon are recyclable, and that’s because they are completely made of paper.

Any curbside recycling program should accept them.

Bubble-Lined Plastic Bag

Amazon bubble-lined plastic bags and other forms of plastic packaging can be recycled by any recycling program that accepts plastic materials.

Before dropping them off at a recycling center, it’s best to call first and check if they will take plastic.

Packing Paper

Since they are purely made from paper, the packing paper used in Amazon packages can be recycled and accepted by any recycling program.

Air Pillow

Air pillows are plastic bags filled with air.

They’re used for Amazon packaging to provide cushioning and protection for fragile items.

Since air pillows are made from plastic, any recycling program that takes plastic materials will take them.

It’s advisable to flatten the air out of these plastic pillows before you set them out to be recycled.

Bubble-Lined Paper Mailer

Amazon paper mailers with air bubble padding are generally not recyclable.

This type of packaging should be properly disposed of in the trash.

Reusable Gift Bags

Reusable gift bags are bags that Amazon uses for packing gift orders.

As the name suggests, they are reusable. However, they are not recyclable.

You have to put them in the trash when they no longer look presentable. When ordering a gift through Amazon, it’s not advisable to ship them in these gift bags as they often end up in landfills.

There are also Amazon reusable gift bags made from 100% recycled material.

Although they’re more sustainable than regular gift bags, they cannot be recycled and should be put in the trash.

Gel Packs

Gel packs are small bags filled with some form of liquid that’s meant to provide cooling. This is used for same-day shipping of frozen Amazon Fresh food items.

Amazon gel packs cannot be recycled and should be disposed of in the trash.

Dry Ice Plastic Film

These plastic films cover dry ice blocks used to keep Amazon Fresh food items at ideal temperatures.

These plastic films also cannot be recycled.

Paper Bags

Items delivered through Prime Now same-day shipping and Amazon Fresh items that don’t need gel packs are often placed in paper bags.

These paper bags are also recyclable.

Insulated Pouch

Insulted pouches are used for shipping Amazon Prime Now temperature-sensitive items.

They can be recycled, but it may take some work to prep them for recycling.

You have to remove the insulating pad and cut it open to take out the plastic film, but any recycling program that takes plastic should also accept them.

Foil Bubble Insulation Bag

These insulation bags are also used for temperature-sensitive Amazon items, but unlike insulation pouches, they cannot be recycled.

Produce Bags

These plastic bags are used for Amazon Fresh products.

They can be recycled, but it’s tricky since they have a plastic film that can get stuck in machinery.

If you want to recycle Amazon Fresh produce bags, you should check with your local recycling center first if they take these bags.

Can Amazon Retailers Choose Non-Recyclable Packaging?

Before this question can be answered, it’s important to note that there are two types of retailers on Amazon: vendors and third-party sellers.

Orders from Amazon vendors are fulfilled and shipped by Amazon, while the retailers themselves fulfil the latter.

Amazon vendors must choose recyclable materials if they want to use their packaging under the Frustration-Free Packaging program.

However, third-party sellers generally get to use any material they want since they’re fulfilling and packing the orders, not Amazon.

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How Do You Know if A Packaging is Recyclable?

Nowadays, it’s quite easy to check whether the packaging is recyclable.

Most packing items, such as boxes, envelopes, plastic pouches, and bubble mailers, would have recycling icons, meaning they are recyclable.

So if you see this icon on a packing material, you can recycle it and shouldn’t put it in the trash.


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