Amazon’s global carbon emissions decreased for the first time ever in 2022, according to the company’s annual sustainability report.
The report, released on Tuesday, revealed Amazon’s total emissions dropped by 0.4% from 71.54 million metric tons in 2021 to 71.27 million metric tons in 2022.
This news contrasts Amazons previous reports in which the company’s emissions have been growing steadily in recent years, with last year’s report exhibiting an 18% increase from the year before.
The bulk of the emissions reductions come from Amazon’s scope 2 emissions, which are the emissions from purchased electricity. These emissions dropped 29% year on year. Amazon, which is the world’s largest online retailer, has been investing heavily in renewable energy over the last few years, and now gets 90% of its electricity from renewable sources. According to the report, the company is on track to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
However, the report does highlight that Amazon’s scope 1 emissions saw an 11% increase in 2022. These emissions are from Amazon’s own operations, such as transportation and the use of refrigerants. The report states the increase was due to a combination of business growth, along with increased transportation via Amazon Logistics rather than third parties.
Amazon is seemingly trying to address this area by implementing a number of low-carbon solutions, including fleets of EV delivery trucks and hydrogen-powered warehouse vehicles. The company has also been working to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics, and now ships 11.6% of its packages without any added packaging, reducing the amount of space required, and therefore minimising delivery.
“We know that sustainability is important to our customers, and we’re continuously investing, inventing and improving to make every interaction more sustainable than the last,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon’s vice president and head of worldwide sustainability. “We do this while working to minimise our impact on the planet and the communities we operate in.”
The ecommerce giant has taken to tracking what it calls its ‘carbon intensity’, that is, its emissions expressed in relation to revenue – decoupling overall emissions from growth. This year, its intensity was 93.7 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per dollar of gross merchandise sales, a 7% decrease from the previous year.
In 2019, Amazon co-founded the Climate Pledge, which aims to reach net zero by 2040. More than 390 companies across 36 countries signed the Pledge by the end of 2022, including other notable companies, including Microsoft, Unilever, Verizon, and Mercedes-Benz.
Tackling supply chain emissions
Another notable remark in the latest report is how Amazon plans to further tackle its scope 3 emissions. These emissions are from upstream and downstream activities like suppliers and customers. Amazon reported a small reduction of 0.7% in 2022, much of which was related to its ability to manage reductions related to building construction and in logistics.
Beginning in 2024, the company will be updating its supply chain standards to require suppliers to share their carbon emission’s data with Amazon and set carbon goals. Amazon claims it will plan to use its scale, investment, and innovation to provide tools and resources to help them reach their goals—whether that’s transitioning to renewable energy or accessing more sustainable materials.
This is a significant step by Amazon as it encourages SMEs who tend to make up the bulk of company suppliers, but aren’t required through regulations, to report and demonstrate on their sustainability efforts in order to remain competitive.
Real estate giant Grosvenor Property made a similar move earlier this year when it announced 28 businesses throughout its supply chain will have validated Science-Based Targets in place in the coming months, after participating in a free mentoring scheme.
Despite the positive findings in the report, there are still concerns around the consumer-centric nature of Amazon and its one day, or even same day, delivery service. This was made clear by a recent report demonstrating the carbon footprint of the renowned Prime Day sales.
You can find the full report here.
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