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Some packaging materials not recyclable

Posted at 5:50 PM, Feb 19, 2020

Local environmental groups are reminding Amazon customers that not all the packaging you receive with your products is actually recyclable in San Luis Obispo County.

This comes as Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has announced he's using $10 billion of his own money to create a fund to fight climate change.

Amazon estimates small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. sell more than 4,000 items per minute on its site.

If you're looking to make a purchase soon, local environmental advocacy groups like ECOSLO say there are steps you can take before finalizing your order to make sure it's more eco-conscious.

"If you do an internet search and look for "Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging," it will take you to Amazon with a filter called Frustration-Free Packaging. You can look for items that are going to be packaged more eco-friendly," explained Mary Ciesinki, Executive Director of ECOSLO.

Currently, Amazon sends several types of items in sleeves which ECOSLO says aren't recyclable in San Luis Obispo County.

"There is no longer a plastic bag take-back program that is required of grocery stores and department stores and it's also branded with Amazon so it can't be used by another shipping company," Ciesinki said.

The Sock Drawer in downtown San Luis Obispo says they recently moved away from using plastic bags to ship their online orders to ones that are 100 percent recyclable and reusable.

"The bags are not only made out of 100 percent recycled materials, but the bag also has two little plastic strips, so we peel off one and seal it and when the customers open the bag, they can use it again to mail something or even mail a return back to us," explained Cindy Johnson, General Manager of The Sock Drawer.

After sending 40,000 orders of socks worldwide last year alone, The Sock Drawer says they found a vendor that will allow them to make their shipping labels recyclable as well.

"When we would peel the mailing label off the backing, we would have to throw the backing away and this company in particular came out with a 100 percent recyclable backing sheet so win-win," Johnson said.

While it's still unclear what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will fund with his new multi-billion-dollar climate action fund, local groups say there are more steps Amazon could be taking to be eco-conscious.

"I think it's really important to lead by example and there's a lot of opportunities for Amazon to do better," Ciesinki said.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced they have ordered custom electric delivery vans to build what they call "the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world."

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson tells KSBY:

At Amazon, we’re constantly working to eliminate waste across our operations. Sustainable packaging initiatives at Amazon including Frustration-Free Packaging have eliminated more than 810,000 tons of packaging materials and have reduced packaging weight per shipment by 27%. For packaging Amazon deliveries, we’re moving from mixed material packaging solutions – paper with plastic cushion mailers – to material that is fully compatible in either paper or plastic recycling streams. Customers can visit Amazon Second Chance for information on how to recycle all Amazon packaging in their community. And to increase access to curbside recycling, Amazon has invested $10 million in the Closed Loop Fund – expanding the availability of curbside recycling to three million homes in communities across the US and diverting one million tons of recyclable material from landfill, eliminating the equivalent of two million metric tons of carbon dioxide.”

To find where you can recycle Amazon’s plastic film mailers click here.

For a list of what can and cannot be recycled in San Luis Obispo County, click here.