500x

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Oceana, an ocean conservation non-profit with headquarters in Washington D.C., has sounded the alarm on Amazon in a new report. According to the non-profit, Amazon is "flooding our communities, environment, and oceans with hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic packaging."

The report claims that Amazon's plastic production is so breathtakingly enormous that it could "circle the Earth 500 times" if one were to create a chained link of its plastic air pillows. Oceana says that Amazon is subsequently polluting the Earth's freshwater and marine systems "every 70 minutes."

Although the company has claimed that its packaging is recyclable, Oceana says the material is not recycled after all, ensnaring waterways and their living inhabitants as a result. In total, the environmentalist group says that Amazon stands responsible for creating 465 million pounds of plastic in 2019. This kind of plastic goes into the making of everyday Amazon products. It includes but isn't limited to Amazon's air pillows but also package wrapping that, due to its lightweight nature, ends up becoming dangerous debris in seas. While Amazon's plastic production has been commercially successful for the enterprise in the form of boosted sales and more growth expected in 2021, the water world is hurting. Big time.

What Amazon says — Amazon says that Oceana's figure is overblown by some 350 percent, according to The Verge. But even if that figure is exaggerated, Amazon still managed to use over 116 million pounds of plastic last year, the outlet notes. It's a staggering figure that has unmistakable implications for the natural environment.

While plastic may seem affordable and manageable for commercial packaging material and product manufacturing, it is life-threatening for the marine and freshwater animals. It was only last year that National Geographic reported on a dead whale found near the Philippines with some 88 pounds of plastic lodged inside its stomach. Stuffed full with the artificial material, the whale had died of starvation as its stuffed stomach had no place for actual food. On top of that, turtles, sharks, and other fish in the water regularly end up tangled and suffocated by plastic debris.

For a company that positions itself as environmentally aware and involved, Amazon's reported conduct in Oceana's report is contradictory, to put it lightly. With millions turning to online shopping during the pandemic, Oceana worries that the shifting landscape of consumerism is only going to hurt seas and oceans more. But there's some hope. For starters, Oceana says that Amazon can make amendments by mainstreaming its practice of eliminating single-use plastics like it did in India this summer. It could also start by being more transparent about its plastic production.