A surprising new report on a simple fact of life locked up has started to generate waves among activist groups – but a major retailer has hit back.
A surprising new report from marine conservation group Oceana has pinned delivery giants such as Amazon for a surprising increase in plastics found in the ocean.
In a December statement, the environmental organization analyzed e-commerce packaging data and found that the U.S. Amazon shipping monolith is believed to have generated 271 million kilograms of plastic packaging waste in 2020, marking an increase substantial 29% from its 2019 estimate of 210 million kg.
the report also found that Amazon’s estimated plastic packaging waste, in the form of air cushions alone, could circle planet Earth more than 600 times.
The report combined packaging data with recent findings published in Science, estimating that up to 10 million kilograms of plastic packaging from Amazon alone entered the world’s waterways by 2020.
Oceana argues that the amount is equivalent to throwing an Amazon delivery van full to the brim with plastic into the oceans every hour.
Amazon’s plastic uses a “cling film” material, which is more difficult to recycle and is not accepted by most residential recycling systems, the researchers said.
The release also claims to expose the online giant’s “empty recycling promises” after its most successful year on record, which saw the US-based company’s sales increase 38%, to $ 386 billion (542 , AU $ 09 billion).
Amazon has denied the claims, arguing that Oceana’s calculations are “seriously flawed” and made using “outdated assumptions.”
As a company revolutionizing the way customers order and receive products, Amazon has seen a massive surge in demand as the world goes into lockdown.
Same-day delivery to metropolitan areas meant customers in the world’s largest cities could sometimes order a pair of shoes while having breakfast and wear them to the supermarket that afternoon.
Oceana’s report concluded that the recycling efforts of the world’s largest retailer “will not significantly reduce its huge plastic footprint.”
“We are using the best data we have. If Amazon were transparent, we would happily use their data. Yes, they use more non-plastic packaging, but they also sell a ton more products, ”Senior Vice President Matt Littlejohn said, via the Guardian.
“We understand that people need Amazon. And so we hope that Amazon can solve this problem and become a leader in reducing plastic, which is really important for the oceans.
“Plastic is a major source of pollution and devastates the world’s oceans. Sea turtles and other marine animals mistake the type of plastic Amazon uses for food, which can ultimately prove fatal. “
As part of the study, Oceana surveyed 1,400 Amazon Prime customers in the US and UK, revealing that 94.8% are “concerned about the impact of plastic pollution on the oceans”, while 91% believe Amazon should reduce its use of plastic packaging and offer plastic-free packaging choices at checkout.
However, Amazon believes Oceana’s calculations are “seriously flawed,” saying the environmental organization “has overestimated our plastic use by more than 300% and is using outdated assumptions about the sources of plastic waste entering our oceans.” .
“Amazon is making rapid progress in reducing or eliminating single-use plastics from packaging materials around the world,” a spokesperson told news.com.au.
“As co-founder of The Climate Pledge, Amazon is committed to protecting the planet and achieving the net zero carbon goal by 2040. We continue to host informed and constructive dialogue with NGOs and ‘others on these issues. “
Additionally, a study published in Nature Sustainability in June 2021 found that the majority of ocean litter still comes from take-out food and drink waste.
“Here, we harmonize the global inventories of waste types in seven major aquatic environments and find that a set of plastic items from take-out food and drink largely dominates global waste, followed by those resulting from the activities of fishing, ”says the study.
Rising levels of plastic in the world’s oceans have long been a concern of environmentalists.
Conservation researchers in Australia have revealed surprising amounts of trash accumulating in some of the country’s most pristine parts of the coastline.
Documentary 2019 Protect paradise revealed how much plastic pollution accumulates. Marine biologist Laura Wells has traveled to far north Queensland and some of the outer reefs and remote islands of the Great Barrier Reef and has revealed chilling numbers of plastic buildup.
Ms. Wells and members of her crew collected 800kg of plastic waste within days of filming. According to the production team, they could have collected a lot more but were limited in the time and space they had to transport the waste.
From their observations and after looking at things like drone footage, they estimated that there was around 1,000 kg of plastic for every mile of beach.
“There was definitely a mix, some from overseas and some from Australia – judging by the labels,” Ms. Wells said.
“The Great Barrier Reef and its ecosystems are considered pristine, but they are quite heavily damaged by plastic pollution. “