New analysis by carbon accounting platform Greenly claims Amazon Prime Day 2022 had a significant environmental impact and urges consumers to think twice this year.
According to the study, the 2022 Prime Day event, which generated over $12 billion (£9.5bn) in sales worldwide, resulted in approximately 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in emissions.
To put this figure into perspective, the emissions produced by the event are equivalent to the emissions of 271,191 petrol cars driven for one year or to the emissions generated by 691,641 round trip flights between Paris and New York.
Greenly‘s analysis also found that the environmental impact of Amazon Prime Day extends beyond sales, with the platform’s climate experts delving into the lifecycle of some of Amazon’s best-selling products, revealing high carbon footprints associated with their production.
One concerning category is fashion items, particularly jeans, which are among the top sellers during Prime Day. The production process of jeans is highly polluting. The raw materials for this process are often cultivated far from the place of dyeing and manufacturing, resulting in significant transportation emissions. Furthermore, in January, the ecommerce giant’s eco-friendly ‘Amazon Aware’ range, which includes women’s and menswear, was accused of greenwashing.
Consumer technology, another popular category during Prime Day, also carries a significant carbon footprint. For instance, manufacturing a smartphone accounts for 82% of its emissions, while the use phase contributes to only 14%. Similarly, manufacturing a laptop is responsible for 63% of its emissions, with the usage phase accounting for 33%.
Alexis Normand, CEO, and co-founder of Greenly, commented on the findings: “With these tCO2e numbers, how can Amazon continue to justify the significant environmental damage of Prime Day?
“The mammoth operation sees consumption – often, arguably, unnecessary consumption of some of the biggest polluting consumer items – shoot through the roof and means even more air, sea and road transport to meet the two-day delivery window.”
“Amazon Prime is a big contributor to consumers’ desire for instant gratification these days, with little thought to the climate-cost of these behaviours.”
Amazon is a founding member of The Climate Pledge, a commitment to eliminate carbon emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than the Paris Agreement. Currently, 421 companies, including Microsoft, Visa, and IBM, have signed the pledge. By joining, these companies promise to track and reduce their emissions and use credible methods to offset any remaining emissions.
In an attempt to reduce emissions, Amazon has been investing heavily into electric delivery fleets to ship products worldwide. They started with an electric vehicle (EV) delivery fleet in the US through a partnership with Rivian, and now plan to invest over €1 billion in electric logistics in Europe. Elsewhere, they have sought to adopt hydrogen to help fuel their operations, as well as expanding its global renewable energy investments.
Despite this pledge, Amazon’s recent sustainability report showed an 18% increase in emissions compared to the previous year. The company was keen to point out its focus on “carbon intensity,” which measures how much CO2 emissions are produced for every dollar of sales.
Tips from Greenly this Amazon Prime Day
To encourage conscious shopping behaviours and reduce the carbon footprint associated with Prime Day, Greenly offers several tips:
- Only buy what you need. Treat yourself occasionally, but don’t make unnecessary purchases often.
- Choose high-quality products with genuine sustainability standards. They may cost more upfront, but they last longer than cheaper alternatives, saving you money in the long run.
- Don’t feel pressured to update your wardrobe or replace working gadgets every season. If they’re still in good shape, consider selling them second-hand.
- Buy used items. You can find plenty of items in almost new or good condition on platforms like Vinted or eBay.
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