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Amazon Adds Vendor Surcharge for Oversized, Inefficient Packaging

Amazon Adds Vendor Surcharge for Oversized, Inefficient Packaging
(Photo Credit: Kari Sullivan, Flickr Creative Commons)

Vendors selling on Amazon must switch to efficient, compact packaging or face a surcharge on each item sent. Companies that transitioned their packaging to the new standards early were rewarded with credits.

Last September Amazon introduced updated Frustration-Free Packaging Program Certification Guidelines that included instructions about calculating a product-to-packaging ratio, recyclability, and requirements for oversized packages.

“When packaging is optimized for Amazon fulfillment, the package is ‘right sized’ for the total supply chain,” the guidelines said. “Smaller packages translate to lower transportation costs. It is also less costly for Amazon to ship that same package to the customer, saving money for both the vendor and Amazon.”

Vendors originally had until August 1, 2019 to make sure their packaging meets the new standards or face a $1.99 surcharge on each item, Annie Gasparro wrote in the Wall Street Journal. To encourage adoption, Amazon began offering a one-time early adopter credit of $1 per item to vendors that certified their items under the new guidelines before the deadline.

“Philips Norelco OneBlade, owned by Koninklijke Philips NV, said it cut the components in its razor packaging to nine from 13 and reduced the volume of packaging by 80% to meet the new standard,” Gasparro wrote. “Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. said it decreased the packaging volume of its Science Diet premium dog food by 34% and the amount of wasted space, or air shipped, by 82%. Newell Brands Inc., the maker of Rubbermaid FreshWorks, said it cut the components used to ship its containers to two from seven.”

CNET reported that Amazon has extended the deadline from August 1 to September 3.

Improving packaging has long been a priority for Amazon. “Over the past 10 years, our sustainable packaging initiatives have eliminated more than 244,000 tons of packaging materials, avoiding 500 million shipping boxes,” the company says. “Our programs have reduced packaging waste by 16%, avoiding 305 million shipping boxes in 2017 alone.”

Earlier this year Amazon committed to making sure that half of all its shipments become net zero carbon by 2030. In describing the effort, called Shipment Zero, SVP of worldwide operations Dave Clark said the goal wouldn’t be easy to achieve, but that it’s worth seeing through.

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