NEW YORK, Oct. 27, 2020 (Fast company) -Inside an Amazon warehouse, when an order gets ready to ship, a worker doesn’t just make a decision about what package seems best. Instead, a suite of machine-learning tools analyze the combination of items that are shipping and choose the size and type of packaging—or whether a box is needed at all—as part of the company’s ongoing quest to shrink its giant packaging footprint.
The company won’t share how much cardboard it uses in a year, though as the world’s largest online retailer, the number is huge. One recent analyst estimate suggests that Amazon shipped 415 million packages in the month of July, for example. But the company says that over the last five years, it has managed to reduce the amount of packaging used per shipment by roughly a third, eliminating 915,000 tons of packaging material, or the equivalent of 1.6 billion boxes that it would have otherwise used. In the last two years, its software has allowed the company to avoid shipping more than 500,000 tons of waste.
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