In May 2020, Ethical Consumer sent Amazon a questionnaire seeking information on how the company reported on its environmental impact. No response was received. A search of the company’s corporate website brought up the company’s 2019 Sustainability: Thinking Big report, which was used to rate Amazon’s environmental reporting against key indicators.
An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on a company's environmental performance and set targets for reducing its impacts in the future. A strong policy would:
1. Include two future, quantified environmental targets
The report included the following quantified targets, all related to the company’s net zero carbon commitments:
net zero carbon across Amazon by 2040
investing in wind and solar to reach 80% renewable energy across all business operations by 2024.
investing in wind and solar to reach 100% renewable energy across all business operations by 2030.
50% of all shipments net zero carbon by 2030.
2. Demonstrate that the company had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, which for electronic goods companies needed to include at least a discussion of toxics, transportation, energy use and sourcing of raw materials
The report discussed the company’s efforts in relation to carbon emissions, renewable energy, transportation, packaging, energy use at fulfilment centres and offices, water saving, sale of sustainable products, and limiting the use of toxic chemicals in Amazon-owned personal care and household brands, circular economy, The report did not discuss the sourcing of raw materials and toxic chemicals in relation to its electronics brands.
3. Be dated within two years
The report was published in 2019 and covered 2018.
4. Have its environmental data independently verified
The carbon emission data in the report had been verified by Bureau Veritas but not the other environmental data in the report.
Amazon met criteria 1 and 3. It therefore received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting and lost half a mark in this category.
Sustainability: Thinking Big (2019)