The Year 2020 may have been heartbreaking for most humans, but it was a good one for Jeff Bezos and Amazon. His company's worldwide sales grew 38 percent from 2019, and Amazon sold more than 1.5 billion products during the 2020 holiday season alone.

Dis you need a book, a surgical mask, beauty product, or garden hose? Amazon was probably your online marketplace.

If you wanted to purchase a Nicolas Cage pillowcase or a harness with leash for your chicken, Amazon had your back. From pandemic misery came consumer comfort and corporate profit. And plastic. Lots and lots of plastic.

In 2019, Amazon used an estimated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging, according to the nonoprofit environmental group Oceana. The group also estimated that up to 22 million pounds of Amazon's plastic packaging waste ended up as trash in freshwater and marine ecosystems around the world. 

These numbers are likely to rise in 2021.

Amazon has disputed those figures, telling the news website VOX that they are ''dramatically miscalculated'' and that actually it uses about a quarter what Oceana reported. But that would still amount to more than 116 million pounds of plastic.

The company was expected to account for an estimated 39 percent of e-commerce sales in the United States last year, according to the market research firm Marketer, more than six times the expected sales of the No.2 company on the list, Walmart.

With this growth, the continuing surge in demand for single-use plastic packaging seems inevitable. Packaging is the largest market for plastic resins in the United States, accounting for 31 percent in 2019, according to the American Chemistry's Council.

A significant portion of that is for food and beverages, but packaging for e-commerce is growing rapidly.

The magnitude of plastic packaging that is used and casually discarded - air pillows, Bubble Wrap, shrink wrap, envelopes, bags - portends gloomy consequences.

These single use items are primarily made from polyethylene, though vinyl is also used. In marine environments, this plastic waste can cause disease and death for coral, fish, seabirds and marine mammals.

Plastic debris is often mistaken for food, and microplastics release chemical toxins as they degrade Data suggests that plastics have infiltrated human food and Webs and placentas.

These plastics have the potential to disrupt the endocrine system, which releases hormones into the bloodstream that help control growth and development during childhood, among many other important processes.

The publishing of the latest global operational research on plastics & Environments, continues. 

The World Students Society thanks authors Dr. Pamela L.Gellers, an associate professor of anthropology and Dr. Christopher Parmeter, an associate professor of economics at the University of Miami.


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