(NEWSnet/AP) – Amazon is shifting away from plastic air pillows to recycled paper for its package filler in North America.

The company said Thursday that it's already replaced 95% of the plastic air pillows with paper filler in North America and is working toward complete removal by year's end. It will be the company’s largest step toward reducing the use of plastic packaging in the region.

While it is an eco-friendly step, Amazon’s research found that the paper filler works just as well, if not better, in protecting purchases during shipping.

“We want to ensure that customers receive their items undamaged, while using as little packaging as possible to avoid waste, and prioritizing recyclable materials,” Amazon said.

Amazon started the testing for the new packing material in October at a fulfillment center in Ohio. The transition process included changing out machinery and training employees on new systems and machines. The paper filler it will use is made from 100% recyclable content and is curbside recyclable.

The e-commerce giant has faced criticism about its use of plastic from environmental groups, including a nonprofit called Oceana, which has been releasing its own reports on Amazon’s use of plastic packaging.

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