Large online retailers would be subject to fines under proposed legislation that would prohibit shipping items in boxes two times the necessary size.
Assemblyman John McKeon, D-District 27, introduced the bill aimed at reducing shipping waste on Feb. 7. Assembly Bill 2235 would prohibit large online retailers and major retailers in New Jersey from using shipping boxes more than twice the volume of the items being shipped.
Retailers who don’t comply would be subject to fines from $250 to $500 for each offense.
“Earlier this year, I ordered a ‘Baby on Board’ magnet for my granddaughter and, although the magnet itself could have easily fit in an envelope, it arrived in a box at least 20 times its size full of packing materials,” McKeon said in a prepared statement. “We have to address the fact that online shopping is the source of a significant amount of packaging waste. Instead of using an oversized box and filling it with packing materials that will end up in a landfill or find their way into our oceans, this bill asks retailers to minimize waste by using shipping boxes that are appropriately sized. While recycling is part of the solution, the best way to reduce our carbon footprint is to reduce the amount of cardboard and waste we produce.”
In 2020, the e-commerce industry produced approximately 2.9 billion pounds of plastic waste, according to ocean conservation nonprofit Oceana. According to All County Recycling, the average U.S. household throws away more than 9,000 pieces of cardboard every year; and cardboard together with paper make up about 41% of solid waste streams.
Fines would apply only to e-tailers that have gross sales of at least $1 million annually in or into New Jersey, and retailers that have at least 75,000 square feet of space and 50 or more employees.
“Online shopping is already responsible for large amounts of packaging waste on a daily basis. To reduce the packaging waste associated with online shopping, it is imperative that large online retailers and major retailers reduce the size of the shipping boxes utilized to ship their products to consumers,” according to the bill.
A request for comment was not returned by press time from Amazon, the nation’s largest e-commerce company.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee for consideration.