Amazon doesn't make many tangible things, but it ships staggering quantities of them every day. And when the online store asked customers how it could improve the shopping experience, buyers said they wanted less packaging.
Luckily, that's one thing Amazon controls in the shipping process. As a result, "we've done a lot of mathematics to write programs to tell our system and our associates exactly which box to use," says Nadia Shouraboura, Amazon's head of technology for worldwide operations.
"When customers receive the package, opening it and and seeing the product is a delight," Shouraboura says.
What hasn't typically delighted customers: excess boxes, twist ties for small materials, and plastic containers called clamshells that are tough to open. Amazon has worked with suppliers such as Philips to cut out the clamshells and stick with boxes that are easy to open and made from recyclable materials.
By cutting wasteful packaging, the company has also reduced its carbon footprint.
In its 50 fulfillment centers, Amazon.com encourages employees to brainstorm at staff meetings on ways to make its warehouses more sustainable and keep energy costs down.
NEXT: Greener arches