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Amazon Rethinks Product Packaging

With the US stock market and the manufacturing segment of the economy both dragging their heels, the American economy has taken quite a beating over the last few months. Still, there are bright spots: many online retailers continue to post decent profit reports, including the granddaddy of all online shopping “malls,” Amazon.com.

But in an attempt to reduce waste and improve their bottom line, even Amazon is making changes these days. The company a announced Monday that it is initiating a new program that will seek to reduce the amount of packing and packaging materials used in the shipping of its products.

As a major online retailer (in fact the largest online retailer), Amazon.com sells virtually everything. Of course, you can still buy books and videos like the old days, but these days you can also buy electric guitars, computer software, kayaks and canoes, clothing and shoes, and virtually any other consumer product imaginable.

Of course, along with all this product shipping comes plenty of waste. The company uses tens of thousands of pounds of shipping and packing materials on a daily basis, something that is both environmentally unfriendly and economically disadvantageous. So Amazon’s attempt to rethink its policy on product packaging is both a “green” initiative, and also a financial initiative to help improve the company’s bottom line at a time of sluggish retail sales.

The company has announced that it will reduce the packaging material used in shipping many of its products, and will institute a new “frustration free packaging” policy to seeks to do away with hard plastic over-wraps that are next to impossible to remove without the aid of a sharp knife or a pair of industrial scissors.

According to an Amazon spokesperson, “…we’ve all experienced the frustration that sometimes occurs when you try to get a new toy or electronics product out of its package.” Amazon is attempting to kill several birds with one stone, by reducing the frustration of opening products, while cutting costs and producing less environmental waste.

If the company succeeds with this initiative, it should be a win/win/win for every body. The consumer gets less packing material to throw away, and has an easier time opening up the package. The company reduces its shipping costs, while decreasing its impact on the environment.

Amazon says that the new initiative will not be a short-term solution, but a long-term vision that could take many years to perfect. Convincing manufacturers of some products sold by Amazon to eliminate needless packaging material could take time, but the company feels that the environmental and financial benefits are well worth it, not to mention the convenience for the consumer who doesn’t have to struggle to open thick plastic packages.

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