Amazon is researching energy efficient technologies to create net zero plastics that can be broken down and turned into new plastic materials or biodegrade, which the company says is another step in its goal to reduce packaging waste.
Amazon says its team of materials experts and scientists will work to develop technologies and materials that will make the complete lifecycle of plastics net zero. As part of the effort, Amazon has joined the US Department of Energy’s BOTTLE consortium, which is designed to stimulate innovation and advance technologies to tackle plastic pollution.
Amazon says it has also joined the project to continue developing chemical upcycling. The company says science and innovation are at the center of its sustainability goals and are committed to finding new ways to eliminate waste and create new sustainable materials.
Through 2021 Amazon says it has it has reduced the weight of outbound shipping by 36%, 1 million tons worth, while increasing the use of recycled materials. Other Amazon packaging initiatives include using recyclable grocery delivery materials, which the company says is replacing 735,000 pounds of plastic film and 15 million pounds of mixed plastics.
Finding alternative materials and innovative ways to produce and use plastics also are increasing as plastic waste concerns remain strong. The United Nations recently vowed to end plastic waste and plans for an international binding agreement by 2024.
PepsiCo recently began using a pallet that uses unsorted household waste in its composition. The company is also part of a group including L’Oréal and Nestlé Waters that last year introduced bottles made from entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic.
Like Amazon’s new plastic research, children’s product company Munchkin also started using plastic material that can bio-assimilate at the end of its use in its products and packaging.
The BOTTLE consortium is supported by the Bioenergy Technologies and Advanced Manufacturing offices, four other DOE research laboratories and five universities.
“Plastics are extremely versatile materials, and often they are still the best option available for a myriad of functions,” says Gregg Beckham, BOTTLE’s CEO and a senior research fellow at the NREL. “Finding a way to better recycle single-use plastics while reducing and ultimately eliminating their use is a grand challenge of our time, and we’re committed to pursuing scientific advancement to this end.”