Amazon is rolling out recyclable grocery delivery packaging that will maintain the temperature of cold and frozen products throughout the delivery window, the company announced.
The company says the packaging is made from recyclable materials and is also easily “curbside” recyclable for the consumer. Amazon began developing the packaging in 2019 to improve on the sustainability of plastic liners and bubble-bag insulation.
Joe Rake, a senior program manager on the grocery delivery packaging team at Amazon, says nothing on the market met Amazon’s needs for thermal and sustainable design. Instead, the company decided to design its own packaging.
The packaging, which will be used for Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh deliveries, utilizes recycled paper tissue layering that is commonly used in the moving and packing industry that has been repurposed for grocery delivery, Amazon says. The packaging will keep cold and frozen foods the proper temperature during the delivery period.
The company also designed the packaging to be compact that it says allows for more deliveries per vehicle, which in turn cuts carbon emissions.
The company tested the effectiveness of the recyclable packaging in its own labs as well as external thermal labs in North America and Europe. Then Amazon piloted the packaging in 2020 in multiple locations with varying temperature scenarios.
Food waste is considered a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally and much of that can be attributed to cold chain issues. An S&P Global Ratings report says food waste results in up to 10% of emissions and nearly $1 trillion of food is wasted each year.
Cold chain improvements also have seen rising importance in other industries, such as UPS Healthcare developing a system and opening facilities specifically to move medicines safely. Part of their plan also includes reusable cold chain packaging.
Amazon’s insulation packaging will reduce material waste and replace 735,000 pounds of plastic film, 3.15 million pounds of cotton fiber and 15 million pounds of non-recyclable mixed plastics, the company says. The company has committed to sustainable packaging across its delivery and production services.
The new packaging is part of Amazon’s Climate Pledge to be net zero across its operations by 2040. Other Amazon commitments include using more than 100,000 electric vehicles, implementing 100% renewable energy by 2030 and having half of all its shipments be net zero by 2030.