In August 2018 Ethical Consumer contacted Amazon.com for information on its environmental reporting. A questionnaire was returned, and the Amazon Sustainability section on its website was viewed.

The website included pages on Amazon Web Services, and packaging. Under Responsible Sourcing it discussed 'Effective Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances'. Under Circular Economy it stated, "To encourage our customers to recycle their Amazon devices, we offer free shipping for this purpose."

On its page about Amazon Web Services it stated “Amazon Web Services (AWS) is committed to running our business in the most environmentally friendly way possible." " In January 2018, AWS achieved 50% renewable energy usage.” It listed 6 Amazon Solar and 3 Amazon Wind projects, and stated, "These renewable energy projects are expected to deliver over 2 million MWh of energy annually".

It stated that it had "a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure", but this target was not dated. No further dated or quantified environmental targets could be found.

The packaging page stated that in 2017 it had a 16% reduction of packaging waste. It said the packaging was 100% recyclable, but not that it was recycled itself. No information was found on the environmental impacts of its electronic products.

On its 'Sustainability Question Bank' webpage there was some discussion about its transportation of items, and water consumption. Ethical Consumer considered Amazon to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts.

Due to a lack of environmental targets Amazon received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

https://www.amazon.com/ (13 August 2018)

In 2015 Ethical Consumer viewed the Climate Count's website www.climatecounts.org. The organisation was a nonprofit organisation launched in collaboration with Clean Air-Cool Planet. The organisation annually scored companies on the basis of their voluntary action to reverse climate change. Climate Counts use a 0-to-100 point scale and 22 criteria to determine if companies had:
* MEASURED their climate "footprint"
* REDUCED their impact on global warming
* SUPPORTED (or suggest intent to block) progressive climate legislation
* Publicly DISCLOSED their climate actions clearly and comprehensively
In 2015, Amazon received the bottom 'stuck' rating for not making any meaningful action on climate change.

Change from previous year's score: -11
Review: 0/22 points. Amazon.com had not made efforts to measure its companywide impact on global warming (i.e., its greenhouse gas emissions or climate footprint).
Reduce: 8/56 points. Amazon.com had taken basic steps to reduce the company's energy use.
Policy Stance: 0/10 points. Amazon.com had provided no public information that supports public policy that addresses climate change.
Report: 1/12 points. Amazon.com had made some public information available on its efforts to address global warming.

As a result of its low rating Amazon lost a whole mark under Ethical Consumer's Climate Change category.

Reference:

Climate counts 2015 (23 November 2015)

Greenpeace published a report by Greenpeace USA on their website on 10th January 2017 looking at the energy footprint of the IT industry. The report stated that "it takes a tremendous amount of energy to manufacture and power our devices, data centers, and related infrastructural needs. The energy footprint of the IT sector is already estimated to consume approximately 7% of global electricity". No update was available when searched for in August 2018.

The report scored 15 global internet companies and gave them a grade between A (the top) and F. The score was based on:

- Percentage of coal, nuclear and gas used to generate electricity
- Transparency on energy use
- Commitment to renewable energy use
- Energy efficiency and green house gas mitigation strategies
- Renewable energy procurement
- Proactive advocacy

Amazon Web Services (AWS) received an overall score of C, this put it roughly in the middle of the table - three other companies were given a C and six companies gained a higher score. AWS’s lowest score was for transparency (F) the report stated “AWS’ greatest barrier to earning the confidence of its customers in its 100% renewable energy goal continues to be its lack of transparency.” It earned its highest score (B) for Renewable Energy Advocacy and was praised for using its influence to push for renewable energy policy. It was given Cs for Renewable Energy Procurement and Energy Efficiency & Pollution Management and a D for Renewable Energy Commitment & Siting Policy. The report highlighted the concern that AWS’ rapid growth was outstripping its increases in renewable electricity use.

Reference:

Greenpeace Click Clean Report update (January 2017)

In February 2018 Ethical Consumer downloaded factsheets for multiple funds from the company website www.blackrock.com. These factsheets listed top ten holdings as of January 2018, which included the following companies which had substantial criticism records on Ethical Consumer’s database:
BlackRock US Dynamic Fund
Wal-Mart (2.4% holding) - criticised under: Climate Change, Pollution and Toxics, Habitats and Resources, Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Irresponsible Marketing, Arms and Military Supply, Controversial Technologies (genetic engineering), Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
BlackRock UK fund
British American Tobacco (6.43% holding) - criticised under: Irresponsible Marketing, Anti-Social Finance
Rio Tinto (3.86% holding) - criticised under: Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Controversial Technologies (nuclear power), Political Activities.
Royal Dutch Shell (3.45% holding) - criticised under: Climate Change, Pollution and Toxics, Habitats and Resources, Animal Testing, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
Unilever (3.71% holding) - criticised under: Pollution and Toxics, Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
BlackRock therefore lost marks in all of these categories for having a financial relationship with a company criticised by Ethical Consumer.

Reference:

www.blackrock.com (21 February 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the Amazon.com website but could find no evidence of a policy on toxic chemicals used in its electronic or clothing brands. Due to a lack of policy Amazon received a worst Ethical Consumer rating in the category and lost a whole mark under the Pollution and Toxics category.

It had been reported by Chemical Watch in March 2018 that, "The company announced in 2017 that it would launch its chemical policy – the first by a solely e-commerce business – this year, but it has not said exactly when it will do this." https://chemicalwatch.com/65225/amazons-e-commerce-model-a-hurdle-for-c…

Electronics: As a producer of electronics Ethical Consumer believed this policy was a necessary part of the company's Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.

Clothing: Many of the processes involved in the manufacture of clothing, especially the production of man made fibres and dying of fabrics, release numerous hazardous substances that have a significant negative environmental impact. As the issue was considered to be an industry wide problem all clothing companies lose a whole mark under pollution and toxics unless: they used 100% sustainably sourced materials (i.e. organic, recycled or cotton sourced under the Better Cotton Initiative); or were listed as a leader in the Greenpeace Detox campaign; or had a turnover of less than £10.2 million and were providing an environmental alternative.

Reference:

https://www.amazon.com/ (13 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the Amazon website, www.amazon.com, and found that the company sold vinyl LPs and products containing PVC. This material had been criticised by environmental campaign groups such as Greenpeace the for its negative environmental impact in production, use and disposal.
As such the company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

https://www.amazon.com/ (13 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon.com and found that the company sold leather. Amazon had its own shoe brands as well as selling hundreds of thousands of leather products through its website.
Over 70 Amazon own-brands for Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry, were listed in April 2018 at: www.recode.net/2018/4/7/17208804/amazon-private-label-brands-list
Amazon's own brands using leather included 206 Collective, Leather Architect, and The Fix.
Given the size of Amazon (one of the largest retailers in the world) leather was considered to form a substantial part of its business. It therefore lost a whole mark under Animal Rights category.

Leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide to preserve it. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air, and watersupply making it a highly polluting industry. As a result the company lost half a mark in the Pollution and Toxics category.

Reference:

https://www.amazon.com/ (13 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon Com's SEC Filing SD form filed in May 2018.

It said "We are committed to avoiding the use of minerals that have fueled conflict, and we expect our suppliers to support our efforts to identify the origin of gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum used in products that we manufacture or contract to manufacture."

The document stated that the company had relected its policy in its Supplier Code of Conduct "which we communicate to our suppliers through our supplier screening process, contracts with suppliers, or by sending our suppliers a copy of the Supplier Code."

It also stated "we request information from our in-scope product suppliers through the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template prepared by the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative."

There was a list of smelters and refiners however it did not include the conflict free status.

While Amazon had submitted its filing to the SEC it did not appear to belong to a initiative which was aimed at addressing the issue of conflict minerals. As a result it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its conflict minerals policy.

Reference:

www.amazon.com (30 June 2017)

A web search, conducted by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, revealed that The Book Depository, owned by Amazon.com, was selling paper products apparently not certified by the FSC or from other sustainable sources.

Reference:

www.bookdepository.com/ (23 August 2018)

In February 2018 Ethical Consumer downloaded factsheets for multiple funds from the company website www.blackrock.com. These factsheets listed top ten holdings as of January 2018, which included the following companies which had substantial criticism records on Ethical Consumer’s database:
BlackRock US Dynamic Fund
Wal-Mart (2.4% holding) - criticised under: Climate Change, Pollution and Toxics, Habitats and Resources, Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Irresponsible Marketing, Arms and Military Supply, Controversial Technologies (genetic engineering), Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
BlackRock UK fund
British American Tobacco (6.43% holding) - criticised under: Irresponsible Marketing, Anti-Social Finance
Rio Tinto (3.86% holding) - criticised under: Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Controversial Technologies (nuclear power), Political Activities.
Royal Dutch Shell (3.45% holding) - criticised under: Climate Change, Pollution and Toxics, Habitats and Resources, Animal Testing, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
Unilever (3.71% holding) - criticised under: Pollution and Toxics, Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
BlackRock therefore lost marks in all of these categories for having a financial relationship with a company criticised by Ethical Consumer.

Reference:

www.blackrock.com (21 February 2018)

In February 2018 Ethical Consumer downloaded factsheets for multiple funds from the company website www.blackrock.com. These factsheets listed top ten holdings as of January 2018, which included the following companies which had substantial criticism records on Ethical Consumer’s database:
BlackRock US Dynamic Fund
Wal-Mart (2.4% holding) - criticised under: Climate Change, Pollution and Toxics, Habitats and Resources, Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Irresponsible Marketing, Arms and Military Supply, Controversial Technologies (genetic engineering), Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
BlackRock UK fund
British American Tobacco (6.43% holding) - criticised under: Irresponsible Marketing, Anti-Social Finance
Rio Tinto (3.86% holding) - criticised under: Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Controversial Technologies (nuclear power), Political Activities.
Royal Dutch Shell (3.45% holding) - criticised under: Climate Change, Pollution and Toxics, Habitats and Resources, Animal Testing, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
Unilever (3.71% holding) - criticised under: Pollution and Toxics, Animal Testing, Factory Farming, Animal Rights, Human Rights, Workers’ Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.
BlackRock therefore lost marks in all of these categories for having a financial relationship with a company criticised by Ethical Consumer.

Reference:

www.blackrock.com (21 February 2018)

In October 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed a report by Friends of the Earth, ‘Are you invested in exploitation?’ dated to July 2016. The report stated that BlackRock ranked 1st among US equity investors with stocks in palm oil production, by dollar amount invested. It estimated that BlackRock invested $8.73bn in stocks in palm oil production in 2015. It also stated, ‘BlackRock’s professes adherence to a particular vision of ESG, but has no public position on palm oil, forests, land grabs or human rights.’

‘As of September, 2015, BlackRock had $721.52 million invested in palm oil through at least nine company groups: Boon Siew Group, Felda Global Ventures, Genting Group, Harita Group, IJM Group, IOI Group, Jardine Matheson Holdings, QL Resources Group, and Wilmar International. This figure jumps to more than $8 billion, if you calculate BlackRock’s holdings in Unilever, the company that purchases roughly three percent of the world’s entire palm oil output.’

BlackRock therefore lost half a mark for having investments in the palm oil industry.

Reference:

Are you invested in exploitation? (26 October 2017)