Amazon, a Seattle-based and one of the biggest tech giants globally, is determined to shrink its carbon footprint and reach zero emissions, i.e., Carbon neutrality by the year 2040.
The gross greenhouse gas emissions related to Amazon’s direct and indirect operations are measured as their corporate carbon footprint. Amazon calculates their total climate effect, maps the significant activities that contribute to the emission, and uses that data to set concrete carbon reduction targets, such as their recent overall goal of reaching a net-zero carbon footprint across Amazon by 2040.
The things that contribute to the carbon footprint of Amazon are Electricity consumed, Amazon lead freight, third-party freight, Amazon-branded products, packaging, corporate traveling, customer’s trip to Amazon stores, and other services or solutions. Thus, Amazon needs to curb the overall carbon emission in every aspect of its trillion-dollar business.
Amazon is committed to its “Climate Pledge,” which is believed to be very significant in their advent of carbon-neutral goals and a potentially expensive initiative as well. Amazon is also investing in large-scale decarbonizing operations; some intended to give immediate payoffs, and some designed and implemented to deliver long-term results. Given that Amazon dominates the technology and retail sectors and has enough resources to make meaningful differences towards net-zero emission. Amazon needs to make sure that it adopt effective greener practices, which should also be permanent and not of temporary nature.
“I believe that their commitment is genuine and sincere, but the lift is huge,” said Dave Chen, CEO, and chairman of Equilibrium.
Although in the year 2019, Amazon saw a 22% increase in its net sales, Amazon also made a 15% increase in its carbon intensity during the same period.
Amazon has made some significant progress towards its initiative, such as they used 100% recycled aluminum and 30-50% recycled plastic in its Fourth-generation Echo and Fire Tv devices. Amazon has curbed the use of plastic in its packaging process and set a goal of using 100% recycled packaging material purchased only from sustainable forests and recycled resources. Amazon has a program to accept its old electronic devices; these devices are either recycled or refurbished later sold at their e-portal.
Amazon’s investments towards its carbon initiative include a project for a new solar farm in Virginia, 100,000 new electric vehicles for deliveries. Amazon has also planned to build wind and solar power plants that will produce power equivalent to the power consumed by its Echo devices. “It surely will take several years for the carbon reduction benefits of these projects and investments to be fully reflected in our carbon footprint,” Amazon said.
Amazon’s head of sustainability and hardware operations, Rachel Praetorius, said “There’s so much passion around the organization for sustainability and I’ve never taken a proposal to our senior leadership that’s been rejected. It’s always been DO THAT, and we should do these ten other things as well.”
While there is enthusiasm for sustainability initiatives, Praetorius agreed that internal improvements are also needed. She said, “I keep telling people that sustainability is not just my job, it’s your job too,” “You have to embed it in every decision you make; you have to embed it in every process we have around the organization. It needs just to be baked into the way we think about our business, which takes time. We have to create new mechanisms and processes and tools to teach people how to do that, but that’s part of our journey.”
Amazon, like many other high-growth businesses, considers not just the number of tonnes of carbon in its footprint but also how it can reduce the carbon intensity. As Amazon continues to invest in innovation, technology, and goods that will decarbonize its operations in the coming years, Amazon’s first year-over-year comparison demonstrates momentum. Amazon’s earliest sustainability initiative includes its focus on the packaging done by the sellers. Amazon committed to renewable and clean energy in 2014, but it was vague and lacked specifics. Then, in 2019, as Amazon employees became more concerned about climate change and Amazon’s contribution towards it, the organization started implementing more aggressive eco-initiatives. Some of their significant initiatives are a Climate pledge that Amazon has convinced more than 100 other companies to join, a $2 billion fund for climate-related startups. The most recent is its $1 billion sustainability bond for climate and social projects.