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Amazon is trying to get rid of its signature brown boxes. The retail shipping giant has a long way to go

Every year, the U.S. goes through enough cardboard boxes for shipping to pave a one-mile-wide road from New York City to Los Angeles three times, or build a mile-high cardboard wall around the entire continental U.S.

Among the primary targets to help reduce this mountain of packaging, the most notable may be the Amazon shipping box or envelope. In 2022, 11% of Amazon orders worldwide were sent in original manufacturer packaging. The company has yet to release its 2023 figure for the initiative designed to get rid of Amazon's signature brown box, called the Ships in Product Packaging program.

It identifies products that might work, contacts vendors and then, to ensure that packages won't be damaged during delivery, Amazon works with those companies to test products in a lab. Packages need to be able to survive drops off a conveyor belt, vibrations and shaking on the truck or the delivery person accidentally dropping the package while walking to the door.

"We qualify products ahead of time to make sure that they are going to deliver to customers without damage. Then we simulate the ecommerce fulfillment process as part of that testing process so as products are enrolled in the program, we make sure they meet that minimum standard to arrive safely," said Kayla Fenton, Amazon senior manager of packaging innovation.

Testing varies depending on what the product is. Liquid items are more tricky than a stuffed animal. "Our tests are designed to react to the particular product type and its inherent fragility," Fenton said. The test results are then fed into machine learning models which go through the Amazon catalog for more items that can be added to the program. For example, if a vendor sells a red tee-shirt, chances are the blue