Amazon carbon footprint decreased by 0.4% in 2022

Amazon has revealed its carbon footprint decreased by 0.4% across all scopes last year in its 2022 sustainability report, despite launching multiple initiatives across its business as part of its pledge to reach net zero by 2040.

“Sustainability is an important issue for our customers around the world, and we are continually investing, inventing, and improving to make every customer interaction more sustainable than the last,” said Amazon vice president of sustainability Kara Hurst.

Outlining some of the retailer’s highlights from the past year, she spoke about new building technologies, such as low-carbon concrete, as well as the ecommerce giant’s investment in renewable energy, revealing that Amazon is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world for the third year in a row.

In 2022, 90% of all electricity used by Amazon was powered by renewable energy from more than 400 wind and solar projects around the world – growing its capacity to 20 gigawatts of clean energy.

She continued: “Our teams are analysing routes and distances to build a logistics system that gets packages to customers faster, with fewer emissions. And we are transitioning our fleet to roll out 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vehicles by 2030, with thousands on the road now.”

The report also revealed that – in addition to avoiding 2m tonnes of packaging since 2015 – Amazon will now stop using plastic-padded packaging completely in a move to cut down waste further.

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“We are phasing out padded bags containing plastics in favor of recyclable alternatives,” the report says, although it didn’t include a deadline.

“Our first goal is to eliminate packaging altogether wherever possible, and when additional Amazon packaging is required to ship a product, we strive to optimize that packaging for increased recyclability and reduced carbon emissions,” Amazon spokesperson Elizabeth Fine told The Verge.

Oceana senior vice president said the company should “commit to a phase-out deadline and make an explicit commitment to reduce all of its plastic packaging in addition to padded mailers but this is real progress and will mean that much less single-use plastic will find its way into the world’s seas.”

Elsewhere, Hurst also said the retailer is “committed to supporting third parties in their own decarbonisation efforts”.

“Amazon has one of the largest value chains in the world. As we know the first step in reducing emissions is to understand them, we will continue to work directly with our suppliers, and, starting next year, will update our Supply Chain Standards to require regular reporting and emissions goal setting.”

However, a recent report from Greenly found that last year’s Amazon Prime Day accounted for around 1.3 million tonnes of carbon – the equivalent to 272,000 cars driving 3 billion miles in one year, or more than 690,000 round trips between Paris and New York.

Greenly CEO and co-founder Alexis Normand questioned the greenness of Amazon: “With these CO2 numbers, how can Amazon continue to justify the significant environmental damage of Prime Day?”

Normand said that the online store doesn’t dive deep enough into its emissions and failed to acknowledge “a staggering 90% of Amazon’s indirect emissions originates from its third-party affiliates.”

“To truly lead in sustainability, the retailer must take responsibility for its entire supply chain. It’s not enough to focus solely on its own operations,” he added.

“We need comprehensive action to address the environmental impact effectively. Let’s demand transparency and a collective commitment to a greener future.”

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