In July 2019 Ethical Consumer contacted Amazon.com for information on its environmental reporting. No response 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 "AWS exceeded 50% renewable energy usage for 2018.” It listed 6 Amazon Solar and 3 Amazon Wind projects, and stated, "Once complete, these wind farms, combined with AWS’s previous renewable energy projects, are expected to generate more than 2,700,000 MWh of renewable energy annually".

It stated that it had a commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage, but this target was not dated.

The packaging page stated the packaging was 100% recyclable, but not that it was recycled itself. No information was found on the environmental impacts of its electronic products, or textiles used in its clothing.

On its 'Sustainability Question Bank' webpage there was some discussion about water usage in its data centres, and transportation of items, including its Shipment Zero vision to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon, with 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030. It stated that "To track our progress on this journey and as part of an overall commitment to sharing our sustainability goals, we plan to share Amazon’s company-wide carbon footprint, along with related goals and programs, later this year."

Ethical Consumer did not consider Amazon to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts.

Overall Amazon received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

www.amazon.co.uk (4 February 2019)

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)

In July 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the UK Government report, 'Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability', published on 19th February 2019.

It stated, "The way we make, use and throwaway our clothes is unsustainable. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and plastic pollution. Synthetic fibres are being found in the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, in fish and shellfish. Our biggest retailers have ‘chased the cheap needle around the planet’, commissioning production in countries with low pay, little trade union representation and weak environmental protection. In many countries, poverty pay and conditions are standard for garment workers, most of whom are women. We are also concerned about the use of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and the garment supply chain. Fast fashions’ overproduction and overconsumption of clothing is based on the globalisation of indifference towards these manual workers."

Amazon was one of several companies rated as 'least engaged' in sustainable fashion and labour market initiatives. It lost half a mark under Climate Change, Habitats & Resources, and Workers Rights.

Reference:

FIXING FASHION: clothing consumption and sustainability (19 February 2019)

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 January 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the Amazon website and found that the company sold a number of products required under British regulations to have a certain level of fire resistance, such as furniture.

Ethical Consumer looked for the company’s policy on the use of chemicals such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs), but no mention of any related policies could be found. Due to the widespread use of toxic chemicals in products to increase their fire resistance, in the absence of a statement to the contrary it was assumed by Ethical Consumer that the company was using such products.

Ethical Consumer also saw that the company sold products made from PVC. This material had been criticised by environmental campaign groups such as Greenpeace the for its negative environmental impact in production, use and disposal.

No policies could be found related to the use of or phase out of PVC.

A strong policy on toxics would include publicly disclosed data on the use of hazardous chemicals such as BFRs and PVC, as well as clear, dated targets for ending their use.

The company therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its pollution and toxics policy and lost a whole mark under Ethical Consumer's Pollution and Toxics category.

Reference:

www.amazon.co.uk (4 February 2019)

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 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 July 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon Com's SEC Filing SD form filed in May 2019.

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 reflected 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 Responsible Minerals 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:

Form SD (May 2019)

In July 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the UK Government report, 'Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability', published on 19th February 2019.

It stated, "The way we make, use and throwaway our clothes is unsustainable. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and plastic pollution. Synthetic fibres are being found in the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, in fish and shellfish. Our biggest retailers have ‘chased the cheap needle around the planet’, commissioning production in countries with low pay, little trade union representation and weak environmental protection. In many countries, poverty pay and conditions are standard for garment workers, most of whom are women. We are also concerned about the use of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and the garment supply chain. Fast fashions’ overproduction and overconsumption of clothing is based on the globalisation of indifference towards these manual workers."

Amazon was one of several companies rated as 'least engaged' in sustainable fashion and labour market initiatives. It lost half a mark under Climate Change, Habitats & Resources, and Workers Rights.

Reference:

FIXING FASHION: clothing consumption and sustainability (19 February 2019)