Amazon says absolute emissions, carbon intensity declined in 2022

Photo by Andrew Stickelman on Unsplash

Amazon has released its 2022 sustainability report, detailing the company’s progress towards reducing its environmental impact. The report highlights key initiatives and statistics related to carbon emissions, packaging, waste, and more.

One of the most significant disclosures is that Amazon’s absolute carbon emissions fell for the first time in 2022, declining 0.4% as year-over-year sales grew 9%. The company’s carbon intensity, which measures emissions per dollar of merchandise sold, decreased by 7% during the same period. This reduction was due to several factors, including the addition of 9,000 electric vehicles to Amazon’s delivery fleet and a slowdown in e-commerce growth.

Amazon also made progress in reducing packaging waste. The company has eliminated more than 1 million tons of packaging material since 2015, and has set a goal to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025. To achieve this goal, Amazon is investing in new packaging designs and working with suppliers to reduce packaging waste through initiatives including Compact by Design.

Amazon Compact by Design

Amazon's Compact by Design is a sustainability certification program that identifies and rewards products with efficient designs. The initiative aims to reduce waste and carbon emissions associated with excessive packaging. It is based on the premise that online products do not require flashy or bulky packaging, which often adds unnecessary weight and volume. Compact by Design focuses on the efficiency of a product's design in terms of its size and weight. Products that qualify for this certification have managed to minimize their size or weight without compromising on their functionality or quantity. This efficiency is calculated as (cubed volume per unit) x (weight per unit), allowing Amazon to evaluate the volume and weight utilization for the number of units a product delivers. The Compact by Design certification is part of Amazon’s broader Climate Pledge Friendly program, which helps customers discover and shop for more sustainable products.

In addition to its own initiatives, Amazon is also taking steps to encourage its suppliers and partners to reduce their environmental impact. Beginning in 2024, Amazon will require suppliers to share their carbon emissions data and set their own carbon goals. The company is also working with suppliers to reduce packaging waste and increase the use of sustainable materials.

The report of the first-ever decline in Amazon’s emissions comes months after the dissolution of Shipment Zero, an initiative that had aimed to make half of the company’s shipments zero-emission by 2030.

Some critics argue that Amazon still has room for improvement in its approach to collecting and reporting on emissions data. For example, Amazon’s Scope 3 emissions reporting only includes the impact of Amazon-branded products, which reportedly account for around 1% of sales. Critics argue that the company should include emissions from all products sold on its platform, as Walmart and Target do in their Scope 3 reporting.

Amazon’s full 2022 Sustainability Report is here.

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