It’s one of the fastest-growing and valuable brands worldwide, with $280 billion in sales in 2019. 212 million Americans visit its website each and every month.
Needless to say, when Amazon does something, the world watches. That includes its sustainability strategy. Here’s how Amazon plans to make its operations more sustainable, from its facilities to the box that comes to your doorstep.
The main goal: reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. The online retail behemoth says it has set an ambitious goal, a decade ahead of what’s set out in the Paris climate agreement. Here are some of the ways it plans to reach it:
Renewable energy. Amazon has committed to using only 100% renewable energy for operations by 2025. In 2019, 42% of energy it consumed was renewable. Amazon is putting its money where its mouth is: it invests in sustainable energy projects across the globe. In December 2020, Jeff Bezos announced that that Amazon is the biggest corporate buyer of renewable energy ever. It has invested in 127 renewable energy projects, including 59 wind and solar projects plus 68 solar rooftops on its fulfillment and sorting centers.
Shipment Zero. You can’t talk about Amazon’s sustainability without thinking about the impact of all those Amazon delivery trucks and shipping boxes that are literally everywhere today. But the company will strive to make half of those shipments net zero by 2030. Some of that will start at renewable-powered fulfillment centers. But Amazon is also committed to using responsible sourcing, sustainable packaging, plus electrifying some of its delivery fleet. It unveiled its first electric delivery vehicle in 2020 and plans to have 100,000 of them on the road by 2030.
Giving customers sustainable options. In 2020, Amazon announced an initiative that will allow eco-savvy shoppers to choose products that best align with their values. The Climate Pledge Friendly program will label products that meet one of 19 sustainability certifications, including Energy Star and Green Seal. Products includes grocery, household and electronic items, and are available on a dedicated section of its website.
Tracking progress. Amazon measures its carbon footprint, and says its actions are already reducing it. For instance, Amazon says that its net sales grew 22% in 2019, but its carbon footprint increased 15% at the same time. It points out that it will continue to drop as it works on innovations, technology and products that will further decarbonize its processes.
Inspiring others. Amazon is challenging other companies to come along on its net zero journey. In 2019, it created The Climate Pledge, which asks companies to embrace decarbonization strategies while neutralizing any emissions they make with offsets. They also must be transparent about their progress. Significant participants include Microsoft and Unilever. A year later, Amazon announced an investment of $2 billion into a related fund to support development of sustainable technologies and services.
From critic target to sustainable voice. You can’t talk about Amazon’s sustainability strategy without mentioning that the company has frequently been the target of critics, including a group of its own employees that have publicly called out its environmental impact. It may have been a little late to the game, but Amazon is taking steps to address its impact across its massive network, and is using its equally-large voice on the world stage to inspire others to do so, too.