Six in ten (58%) of UK adults would be happy for items they order online to arrive without added delivery packaging in order to reduce their environmental impact, according to a study commissioned by Amazon.
The findings are released as more and more essential items – such as kitchen accessories, nappies and laundry detergents – are being delivered to UK shoppers without additional delivery packaging from Amazon.
No added packaging can mean shipments are lighter, which leads to reduced delivery emissions per package, and means customers don’t need to recycle an additional Amazon cardboard box or paper bag. Since 2015, Amazon has reduced the weight of outbound packaging per shipment by 41% on average and eliminated over 2 million tons of packaging material.
Our customers really care about reducing packaging, and we’ve made significant progress doing so for years… we want to eliminate packaging altogether.
Among the items people are happiest to receive in the manufacturer’s original packaging – with just an address label added – are pet foods, toilet rolls, gardening products and DIY items.
The research found that the items customers would be least happy to receive without additional packaging include condoms and bikini wax strips – belonging to product categories Amazon already ships discreetly – as well as high value items such as laptops, which are excluded from Amazon’s reduced packaging programme.
“Like us, our customers really care about reducing packaging, and we’ve made significant progress doing so for years,” said Justine Mahler, Director of Packaging Innovation, Amazon. “That said, we aren’t satisfied with continued reduction, we want to eliminate packaging altogether.
“One way we do this is by working with manufacturers to design packaging that’s capable of shipping safely, without additional paper bags, envelopes or boxes from us. We’ve already achieved a lot, increasing the number of orders shipped to customers with no added delivery packaging in the UK by more than 50% since 2021. We are working to ship even more deliveries the same way.”
Customers wishing to receive items with no added packaging can do so easily, with no need to ‘opt in’. If the item is eligible, a message appears during check-out explaining the item arrives in packaging that ‘shows what’s inside’.
“We know there are times when customers prefer that we add packaging to their order. For example, an item intended to be a gift for another family member in their household. We don’t want to ruin that surprise. That’s why in many cases we offer customers the option to have their item sent in a box or paper delivery bag, even though the item is capable of shipping without additional packaging,” Mahler continued.
Customers wishing to conceal their orders can use a drop-down menu - available for many items certified to ship without added delivery packaging - and click on ‘Hide what’s inside, dispatch in Amazon packaging’.
While one in three shoppers surveyed (38%) want retailers and manufacturers to prioritise packaging reduction, almost the same number (36%) say what matters most is that packaging is recyclable. One in five (17%) of customers surveyed say that their packaging priority is reusability.
Safe and certified
Products selected to be shipped without added delivery packaging have passed rigorous drop tests, ensuring they can reach customers safely and securely in their original product packaging – a reassuring fact for 62% of those surveyed, who said their main concern about deliveries without additional outer packaging is damage.
One in three surveyed (38%) said knowing they can get a refund or replacement for missing items gives them the confidence to receive their online orders this way. If there is a problem with an Amazon order, customers can always contact customer service to request a replacement or refund.
And as for nosey neighbours, this isn’t a problem for British shoppers, with three quarters 76% surveyed say they have never been embarrassed by receiving a package. In fact, 87% trust their neighbours to take care of their deliveries if they are not there to receive them.
Amazon is working with product makers like Procter & Gamble to design and test packaging for their products – including Pampers, Swiffer and Ariel – so they can ship without the need for added delivery packaging. Where packaging is necessary, Amazon uses machine learning algorithms to help make smart packaging choices for customers, so that it fits well, uses as little material as possible, and protects customers’ orders.
As well as reducing packaging, Amazon is the co-founder of and the first signatory to The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. To date, the pledge has more than 400 signatories, across 55 industries and 35 countries. As part of its commitment, Amazon is on a path to reaching 100% renewable energy across its operations by 2025. Last year, the company announced it will invest more than €1 billion to electrify its European transportation network and reduce carbon emissions.
Learn more about how Amazon is reducing packaging.