Amazon's Reusable Tote Program

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 2:49 PM

Just a little over a month ago a large online retailer started to expand upon their existing program to include a third option to the much maligned paper and plastic. Whilst Amazon does not offer paper and plastic as an option to carry out since items are shipped directly to the customer’s home or business. However, with this in mind, Amazon still has a large carbon footprint by sending packages in cardboard and all the associated wrapping of the product. One way to attack this problem was to introduce the frustration-free packaging which aimed to reduce the number of parts required to wrap the product being sold. Over time this has a cumulative impact of reducing the total amount of waste or need to recycle containers. Now, Amazon is trying to introduce another concept that tackles the problem a bit further. This program is now offering deliveries to be wrapped in reusable totes. This is a pilot program that will only be available to the residents of the state of Washington at this time. How it works, it allows people to receive people to receive purchases up to twice a week in those new style containers. They are sealed to keep Washington’s climate at bay from harming or affecting the product. There is no fee for this service. Residents have a choice to send this back or keep it for themselves as deliveries come and go. Kind of reminds me of the day where milkmen came by to drop off the milk. Now we have the option to return those bags to Amazon to be used for further transaction. This effectively removes the environmental cost of shipping packages in brown boxes. However, there is still the challenge of carbon emissions from the FEDEX or UPS vehicles as deliveries are made. That will eventually be addressed by emerging technologies of hybrids, natural gas, or electric vehicles. I think this is an interesting concept because this attempts to circumvent the problem of choosing between plastic or paper. Of which, those two are not really viable long term solutions to transportation of goods. Read more about this program at https://tote.amazon.com/AmazonToteLearnMore. There is also an excellent FAQ http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=200497930

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