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Upset Amazon customers have been taking to social media to voice their frustration over the seemingly excessive amount of packaging being used for shipping small, durable items. Customers across the world have been publicly posting photos of their products being delivered in huge boxes along with a large amount of brown paper or air pouches.
In 2009, Amazon launched a Packaging Feedback Program to ensure that items were being sent to customers in good condition and in appropriate-sized, waste-free packaging. Amazon continually sends follow up-emails asking for customers’ feedback on the packaging of their recent deliveries. This feedback is to be used to improve product and Amazon packaging. Many have argued that Amazon has yet to improve upon the excess packaging issues since images such as the ones above are still being posted daily.
A recent BBC ONE documentary filmed at one of Amazon’s UK distribution centers points out the major flaws with the current packaging process. The current CubiScan 100 system is shown to choose a box that is too large for the small, sturdy item being shipped. The system is to take into account the weight and dimensions of a product and then tells the handler which of the 17 available box options to choose from. The main issue with the current system appears to be the limited number of box options not being able to properly accommodate the millions of items at the fulfillment warehouse. Amazon's head of global sustainability states that "in most cases, we're getting it right", but also reveals the testing of a new technology called “Box on Demand” that creates packaging to fit the specific dimensions of a product. If this is successful, it would save a great deal of cardboard and packaging materials. The testing will occur in warehouses across Europe for the next 12-20 months, so we will have to wait to see the outcome and what the impact of it will be on Amazon and its customers.