Is Amazon Bad for the Environment?
See what has been reported about Amazon in other communities, and judge for yourself.
Amazon‘s quasi-dystopian workplace culture is far from its only moral failure in a corporate world that increasingly expects big companies to do the right thing. Its environmental record is badly smudged. Unlike some of its biggest rivals, the e-commerce giant refuses to release information about energy consumption at its data centers. Only last November did it start using renewable energy to power some of these electricity-guzzling facilities. In addition, the company offers to recycle customers’ old devices, but the program is far from comprehensive.
Over the past year, Amazon has reduced the portion of shipments it packs in its cardboard boxes in favor of lightweight plastic mailers, which enable the retailing giant to squeeze more packages in delivery trucks and planes. But environmental activists and waste experts say the new plastic sacks, which aren’t recyclable in curbside recycling bins, are having a negative effect.
Amazon has been criticised by environmental groups and customers after introducing a range of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled in the UK. While supermarkets and other retailers have been reducing their use of single use plastics, the world’s biggest online retailer has started sending small items in plastic envelopes, seemingly to allow more parcels to be loaded on to each delivery truck.
Many global corporate giants have been sharing their data on carbon emissions with CDP, a nonprofit that gathers that information on behalf of big institutional investors worried about how their assets will fare in a warming world. But Amazon.com, unlike many of its rivals, keeps those cards close to the chest. CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, queries companies about carbon emissions and other data every year to build what it says is the most detailed collection of self-reported environmental information anywhere.
Amazon has changed the way Americans shop. This year, the e-commerce giant said its annual Prime Day sale was “the biggest shopping event in Amazon history.” During the 36-hour event, people bought over 100 million products, crashed the website, and signed up for more Prime memberships than ever before. The behavior is indicative of the buying culture Amazon created. The company's ease, speed, and savings — underscored by killer perks like free, expedited shipping and simple returns — has encouraged more people to shop online, more often.
Since 2005, Amazon has attracted hundreds of millions of customers to its Prime membership program by promising one thing — free and fast shipping, with products arriving within 48 hours or less. There had been numerous caveats to Amazon’s free two-day shipping program: For orders with some small items, Prime has required customers to spend a minimum of $25 before they qualify for free shipping, and orders, in general, can take longer than two days to reach a customer.
On September 20, hundreds of Amazon workers plan to walk out of the company's Seattle headquarters. The organized action is in part to support the worldwide climate strike set to take place that day, but is just as much an effort to get the attention of Amazon's leadership, which has been largely silent on the company's impact on our environment. It's one of the largest companies in the world, and its presence is felt thanks to Amazon's growing carbon footprint that expands with every item boxed up, stuffed in the back of a delivery truck and brought to your front door.
Greenpeace has made a tradition out of raking companies over the coals when their environmental practices fall short of its standards, and that's truer than ever in the activist group's latest electronics report card. The organization didn't list any major company whose environmental stances (including renewable energy, sustainable products and toxin-free materials) were good enough to merit an "A" grade, and four companies earned an unflattering "F" -- including internet giant Amazon. According to Greenpeace, Jeff Bezos' brainchild falls well short on most marks.
OVER THE PAST year, tech workers across the country have walked out to protest a wide range of issues. Google employees objected to the handling of sexual harassment claims. Riot Games workers demonstrated against forced arbitration. And Wayfair staff left their desks after learning that the retailer profited from migrant detention centers run by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Now it's Amazon's turn.