Amazon is being threatened with a heavy tax bill as councils struggle

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The world’s largest internet retailer may be at the mercy of a future ‘cardboard box tax’ after councils up and down the country are being left with huge recycling bills.

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Cardboard use

Tech giant Amazon – which is worth $1 trillion – currently pays towards the collection and recycling of its huge cardboard use through the Packaging Recycling Obligation system, a common practice for those businesses that create cardboard waste.

Tens of millions of pounds

With its worldwide customer base and internationally popular Same Day Courier Service, cardboard use is, according to councils, leaving them with tens of millions of pounds a year to find for recycling.

Change in the law

But the law looks set to change with government ministers in the process of drafting a Resources and Waste Strategy to tackle this; in essence this will see online retail giants facing hefty charges related to the amount of packaging they use.

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Although its Same Day Courier Service is hugely popular, many of Amazon’s customers are critical regarding the large size of the boxes and the amount of paper used. In fact, some shoppers have highlighted that they have received ink cartridges in a box 11 times the size of the product. There is, of course, still a place for Why would I use a same day courier service?. However, online shoppers may need some retail readjustments.


In response, Amazon has said that over the last 10 years it has avoided using 500 million boxes, therefore eliminating 244,000 tonnes of packaging.

Future initiatives

In 2015, 43.5 per cent of the UK’s municipal waste was recycled; other initiatives in the pipeline include Waitrose replacing plastic bags for fruit and vegetables with corn starch alternatives which are compostable. This will save an enormous 71 million plastic bags finding their way into consumers’ homes.


Industry experts have long suggested that Amazon should take back the boxes on delivery, just as online retailers – such as Ocado – take back plastic carrier bags when delivering goods. This may well not be far off following the overhaul in the law, which looks set to become part of the statute book in November of this year. It will also help alleviate those cash strapped councils and taxpayers who currently pick up the tab.

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