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 2019, Ethical Consumer viewed the 'Responsible Sourcing' page of the Amazon website, for its policy on toxic chemicals used in electronic, clothing brands and furniture brands.

No information was found regarding the production of clothes.

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.

Amazon did have a policy regarding the use of toxic chemicals in other parts of its business: “The baseline list of chemicals of concern included on our first Restricted Substance List (RSL) identifies the chemicals that we seek to avoid in Amazon-owned Private Brand Baby, Household Cleaning, Personal Care, and Beauty products in the U.S.”

The RSL list “includes a baseline list of chemicals of concern that all brands should work to phase out and eliminate. In particular, it focuses on paraben preservatives, formaldehyde donor preservatives, phthalate solvents, nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) surfactants, Toluene, and Triclosan.”

While Ethical Consumer acknowledged the progress made by Amazon with the introduction of a Restricted Substance List, it considered the statements to be weak. e.g. “We seek to avoid” and “all brands should work to phase out”. Ethical Consumer also expeccted to see quantified and dated targets applied to the policy.

As Amazon sold electronics and furniture, Ethical Consumer also expected it’s chemicals policy to contain statements on PVC and brominated flame retardants, but no policy was found.

Although Amazon did have a list of restricted chemicals, there were chemicals that Ethical Consumer expected to be included on the list. Amazon’s policy also lacked any phase out dates. Therefore, Amazon received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for it’s policy on toxic chemicals, and lost a whole mark under the Pollution and Toxics category.

Reference:

www.aboutamazon.com/sustainability/responsible-sourcing (11 February 2019)

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's website and found that it sold several brands of clothings through private labels. Due to the issues in the cotton supply chain clothing companies were expected to have a cotton sourcing policy. No policy was found.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Reference:

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

In January 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the Amazon website, notably the 'Responsible Sourcing' page on the 'Sustainability' section, for its timber sourcing policy, but no policy was found.

Ethical Consumer's timber sourcing ranking required companies scoring a 'best' to cover six of the below issues:
1. Having a timber sourcing policy that covers all timber and timber-derived products
2. the exclusion of illegal timber or that sourced from unknown sources and...
3. ...a discussion on how a company ensures/ implements this
4. clear targets for sourcing timber from sustainably managed sources
5. a discussion of a good minimum standard
6. preference given to certified sources
7. a discussion about tropical hardwoods (THW) and the percentage of THW sourced that are FSC certified
8. involvement with a multi-stakeholder initiative or bridging programme such as the World Wildlife Fund- Global Forest Trade Network
9. use of reclaimed or recycled wood/ paper
10. a high total percentage (50%+) of FSC certified timber sourced by the company.

Amazon met non of the above criteria and therefore received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for its timber policy and lost a whole mark under Habitats and Resources.

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)