Amazon Bags — Nowhere Near
Senior Thesis, UIC School of Design 2020
Amazon’s frustration-free packages, introduced in 2018, replaced 305 million pounds of cardboard packaging but only 4% of these new plastic envelopes are recycled. The reason is the label, considered ‘contamination’ by most recycling operations because of the adhesive that causes machines to jam. In Chicago, the overall recycling rate is 9%, the lowest in the nation. The best in the nation is San Jose, at 79%. Chicago being Chicago, Amazon’s so-called frustration-free packaging is recorded as recyclable, which means the ‘green’ waste collection companies charge the city for recycling services, when in fact it ends up on the trash heap. As a designer, I’m interested in creating work that flips the focus from sustainable production to sustainable consumption. By giving Amazon’s frustration-free packaging a second life as DIY totes, pouches, and portfolios (for instance), consumers do their part to keep it out of trash systems where it can’t be recycled.