See Amazon’s new machine that builds personalized packaging around your items

LUXEMBOURG CITY, Luxembourg — Amazon boxes sitting by your mailbox may soon be a thing of the past. The online retail giant is testing a novel packing machine designed to craft paper bags tailored to individual items, aiming to significantly reduce excess packaging.

The company has also engineered a type of paper that is more resilient to bad weather, possesses the ability to stretch, and can be heat-sealed similarly to plastic — all without requiring glue.

The machine utilizes a sensor to assess items, such as video games, kitchen tools, sports equipment, and office supplies, that were formerly shipped in boxes or cardboard envelopes. It then crafts a personalized paper bag that snugly fits each item, ensuring minimal excess space within.

This bag-making process employs a heat-sealing method that eliminates the need for glue, enabling the machine to package items both swiftly and precisely.

Amazon’s new automated packaging machines create made-to-measure paper bags.
Amazon’s new automated packaging machines create made-to-measure paper bags. (Credit: Amazon Europe)

“Our material scientists developed a light but durable paper which stretches, is more weather resistant than regular paper, and can be heat-sealed like plastic – but it’s all easily recyclable in your household collections,” says spokesperson Thais Blumer, Head of Sustainable Packaging for Amazon Europe, in a statement. “Our trials already show that this technology is efficient, secure, and reliable.”

This innovative approach emerged as the company’s packaging engineers reconfigured machines that formerly produced plastic packages. These older machines became obsolete when Amazon discontinued the use of single-use plastic delivery bags in their European fulfillment centers. To repurpose the machines, engineers integrated new components, allowing them to work with thinly coated paper instead of plastic.

Watch how the new packaging machine works here:

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The first machines of this kind, stationed in Mönchengladbach, Germany, and Bristol, United Kingdom, have already processed thousands of packages for customers.

Looking ahead, Amazon envisions that this automated packaging technology will be adept at packing multiple items into sturdy, custom-fit paper or cardboard containers, minimizing empty space while safeguarding the contents during transit. Lighter shipments could lead to diminished emissions per package, propelling the retailer closer to its ambition of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The company says, on average, the machine helps to eliminate 26 grams of packaging for every shipment.

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South West News Service writer Richard Jenkins contributed to this report.

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Lea la versión en español en Descubre la nueva máquina de Amazon que crea envases personalizados alrededor de tus artículos.