Amazon’s mission to eliminate wasteful packaging will roll out in 2019 with a fee on all items which are not certified. We answered some common questions to help sellers understand Amazon’s guidelines for certification and potential packaging solutions.

What makes packaging Frustration Free?

Frustration free packaging uses the minimum packaging required to protect and ship products. It is:

  • Easy to Open with all items unpacked in 120 seconds.
  • 100% Recyclable reducing waste and environmental footprint.
  • Fully Protective passing ISTA testing.

How can my packaging be Frustration Free?

Below Amazon illustrates how they categorize their three certification tiers. Most items already fall into one of these tiers. Tier 1 is Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP).

  • Tier 1 (Frustration Free Packaging)
  • Tier 2 (Ships In Own Container)
  • Tier 3 (Pre Free Packaging)
    What do these tiers mean?

Tier 1 (FFP) and Tier 2 (SIOC) ship in vendor packaging without additional packing from Amazon. They use less material making them more sustainable. Only packages larger than 9” x 6 x 0.375” can qualify as Tier 1 and

Tier 2. Smaller packaging is Tier 3 and requires an additional box from Amazon.

What is ISTA testing?

The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) is an independent company which runs simulations of shipping environments. Their tests show how packaging and products react to transportation hazards.

They simulate the conditions in distribution and carrier supply chains with free-fall drops and vibration testing. These tests ensure your products arrive undamaged to customers.

What are the benefits of ISTA testing?

  • Reduced time to market
  • Increased confidence in product launch
  • Reduced damage and product loss
  • Balanced distribution costs
  • Increased market share through customer satisfaction

What is the smallest packaging accepted by Amazon?

The minimum size for Tier 1 and Tier 2 is 9” x 6 x 0.375”. Smaller packaging only qualifies for Tier 3.

Are there print limitations?

“Package markings and labeling must clearly indicate contents and communicate any unique handling instructions. All certified packages must also follow the labeling and carton marking requirements as outlined in the Vendor Shipment Prep and Transportation Manual available within the Vendor Central Resource Centers.”

What is the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 certifications?

Both tiers require ISTA testing and should be designed to reduce any waste. Tier 1 also requires easy to opening and complete recyclability.

What if my packaging does not qualify for any of the three tiers?

Amazon SKUS not certified by July 31, 2019 are subject to a $1.99/unit fee.

Are there material limitations for Amazon packaging?

Tier 1 packaging must be curbside recyclable. Corrugate board, paper materials, or plastics (marked with SPI codes 1 PET, 2 HDPE, and 5 PP) are curbside recyclable. U.S. vendors must comply with the FTC’s “Green Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Section 260.12)”. EU vendors will refer to the legislation from European Parliament “Council Directive 94/62/EC”. These are examples only, and vendors must comply with all applicable laws. Additionally, printing and treatments must not affect package recyclability.

  • Plastic films and bags are only allowed to protect the product from abrasion and dust, or to contain small parts. These plastics must fit SPI codes 2 HDPE or 4 LDPE.
  • Twist ties are only allowed for cord organization, and cannot secure product to packaging.
  • Silica gel bags are allowed.
  • Flexible films or bags to provide barriers which maintain product quality or freshness are allowed.

What is the packaging certification process?

What are the benefits of certification?

“Frustration-Free Packaging provides an optimal e-commerce packaging experience by being Easy-to-Open, Protective, Low Waste, and Cost Effective. When packaging is done this way customers have a positive product-opening experience and less for the waste bin. Program participants (Vendors, Sellers, Distributors, and Manufacturers) also benefit from reduced waste with lower costs across their supply chains”.

Zenpack’s Approach to Developing Frustration-Free Packaging

Our experienced, international team of designers and engineers is happy to take on the AFFP challenge. Together we can reduce costs and improve efficiency while helping our environment.

Our ISTA certified labs, will test the integrity and performance of your packaging. The test report can be used for Amazon’s approval.

Zenpack’s packaging manufacturing solutions always looks to reduce costs for our clients. If you’re shipping through Amazon, we’d love to design your packaging to these standards!

If you want to know more about Zenpack’s services


Let our packaging consultants help you turn your idea into reality.

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