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How to recycle Amazon packaging

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Figuring out how to recycle your Amazon packaging can be confusing.
Figuring out how to recycle your Amazon packaging can be confusing.

Before you read on check out just one of our products up-cycled from packaging. Bags with a second life that will change a life.


Amazon has become an integral part of our lives, as more and more people receive weekly — and even daily — packages from the company. But as these packages pile up on doorsteps all over the world, a glaring issue has emerged: How do you recycle all those damn boxes, bubble envelopes, and Prime Now paper bags? 

Given the huge variety in packaging, the answer isn’t so clear. 

1. Paper padded envelope mailer

Amazon's paper padded mailer.
Amazon’s paper padded mailer.

Amazon says these paper padded mailers are recyclable, just like cardboard boxes and other paper items. 

Paper products should be accepted by most curbside recycling programs, says Pinsky similarly.

2. Bubble-lined plastic bag and plastic bag

Amazon's bubble-lined plastic bag.
Amazon’s bubble-lined plastic bag.
Amazon's plastic bag.
Amazon’s plastic bag.

Some cities offer curbside recycling, Amazon writes on its site. If your city doesn’t, Amazon provides a website where you can enter your zip code to find a drop-off location that accepts plastic film, which these bags contain.

Still, it’s questionable if some drop-off locations will accept bubble-lined plastic bags, Pinsky says. Hoover advises people to check drop-off centers’ websites to see what they can recycle. 

3. Cardboard box and cardboard folder

Amazon's cardboard box.
Amazon’s cardboard box.
Amazon's cardboard folder.
Amazon’s cardboard folder.

Cardboard boxes and folders can be recycled in most curbside recycling, Amazon states on its website. It also says to remove any tape before recycling. 

Still, you should check with your local government to see what is recyclable and learn how and if you’re supposed to prepare these materials in a particular way, Hoover says. 

For example, New York City advises people to flatten cardboard boxes and then tie them together with strong twine before setting them out for recycling. 

You can also use your cardboard boxes to start composting

4. Give back box partnership(for cardboard boxes)

Give your Amazon cardboard box another life by donating your stuff with it.
Give your Amazon cardboard box another life by donating your stuff with it.

If you have an extra box lying around, you can also give it a second life. Just fill a box with items you wish to donate, print out a label for free, and ship it at no cost to you through UPS or USPS. Your old things will be re-homed to charities through Amazon’s partnership with Give Back Box, and you can write off the donation on your taxes. 

5. Packing paper

Amazon's brown packing paper.
Amazon’s brown packing paper.

Packing paper is recyclable through most curbside recycling programs, Amazon writes on its website

6. Air pillow

Amazon's air pillow.
Amazon’s air pillow.

Amazon suggests you either recycle its air pillows curbside, if possible, or find a drop-off location that accepts them. Like Amazon’s plastic bags, air pillows contain plastic film, which means the packaging is harder to recycle. 

When you are able to recycle them, Hoover suggests first popping the air out of the pillow and then bringing it to a drop-off location. 

7. Bubble-lined paper mailer

Amazon's bubble-lined paper mailer.
Amazon’s bubble-lined paper mailer.

Paper mailers with air bubble padding are not recyclable and should be put in the trash, Amazon says on its website. However, Amazon also says you can check with your local recycling program for more details but doesn’t explain what they mean by this. 

Pinsky, for his part, advises throwing out these mailers. 

8. Prime Now gel pack

Amazon's Prime Now gel pack.
Amazon’s Prime Now gel pack.

Gel packs are not recyclable and should be thrown out, Amazon’s website states

9. Amazon Fresh dry ice plastic film

Amazon Fresh dry ice plastic film.
Amazon Fresh dry ice plastic film.

This plastic film covers the dry ice blocks used to keep Amazon Fresh groceries at the right temperature. It can’t be recycled, Amazon’s website says. 

10. Prime Now Paper Bag and Amazon Fresh Paper Bag

Amazon's Prime Now Paper Bag.
Amazon’s Prime Now Paper Bag.
Amazon Fresh Paper Bag.
Amazon Fresh Paper Bag.

Since they’re paper, Amazon’s Prime Now and Fresh   Paper Bags are recyclable through most curbside recycling programs. 

11. Prime Now insulated pouch

Amazon's Prime Now insulated pouch.
Amazon’s Prime Now insulated pouch.

Amazon’s Prime Now insulated pouches are tricky to recycle. Amazon recommends that you first take out the insulating pad from the plastic mailer and cut the pad open to remove the plastic film. Then it says you can recycle the plastic film and mailer where #4 plastic is accepted, and the natural fiber pad where #60 cotton is accepted. 

Amazon should list #4 film plastic on its website not #4 plastic, as many curbside programs accept rigid #4 plastic, but will not take any film plastics, Hoover wrote in an email. 

12. Amazon Fresh water bottle

Amazon Fresh water bottle.
Amazon Fresh water bottle.

This is just a water bottle and can be recycled in most curbside recycling programs. Amazon states on its website that these water bottles are used to cool items like food, but you can also drink the water, so don’t let it go to waste.

13. Foil bubble insulation bag

Amazon's Foil bubble insulation bag.
Amazon’s Foil bubble insulation bag.

Amazon says foil insulation can’t be recycled and should be thrown out. 

14. Amazon Fresh Cardboard Box

Amazon Fresh Cardboard Box.
Amazon Fresh Cardboard Box.

The Amazon Fresh Cardboard Box can be recycled like Amazon’s Prime Now and Fresh Paper Bag, however, you should take off the tape before you recycle it, Amazon’s website states. 

15. Amazon Fresh dry ice pouch

Amazon Fresh dry ice pouch.

The Amazon Fresh dry ice pouch can’t be recycled, so you have to chuck it in the trash can.