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North America is illegally feeding India's Amazon packaging waste

02:36 PM Jan 12, 2023 IST | Dewanshi Tiwari
north america is illegally feeding india s amazon packaging waste

While Amazon consumers in North America live under the assumption that their packaging waste is being duly recycled and ideally re-used. But, plastic packaging waste is being dumped at six different illegal sites, across the continent, in the north Indian city of Muzaffarpur.  

Read more: Amazon Packages Burn in India, Last Stop in Broken Plastic Recycling System


Paper Industry of Muzaffarnagar

The major paper industry in Muzaffarnagar has more than 30 mills. As a rule, paper factories in India often rely on recycled paper as raw material instead of using wood pulp. The reason for this is that recycled paper that is imported is much cheaper as compared to wood pulp. The Indian paper industry imports around six million tonnes of recycled paper annually to meet its needs, and most of it is imported from North America. 

The issue here is that this recycled paper comes mixed with all the plastic. The recycled paper is contaminated with all kinds of plastic that are thrown into the recycle bins by North American consumers, presuming that these will be re-used in the future. 


The plastic paradox

India is bringing more than 500,000 tonnes annually, mixed with recycled paper, which is also known to include other hazardous waste.

This plastic waste is known to have a high sale value in India. It is even used to light up furnaces in factories being the reason for rising greenhouse gas emissions. The issue comes in due to the fact that this plastic is not recyclable. It just gets dumped from western countries, mostly in North America, and eventually gets burnt here. 


Read more: Amazon’s plastic packaging was reportedly found thousands of miles away at illegal dump sites in India 

The majority of logos among the packages have been found to be of Amazon. According to a report by the International Environmental Group Oceana, Amazon’s e-commerce site generated 709 million pounds of plastic packaging in 2021 globally, 18% more than in 2020. This waste of soft plastic is becoming a real menace in Muzaffarnagar and needs to be tackled appropriately. 

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Dewanshi Tiwari

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