After years of negative media attention, Amazon is finally beginning to address the massive impacts of global online shopping.
IF YOU TYPE THE WORDS “Amazon sustainability” into Google, the first thing that comes up in the search is a link to books about sustainability that the online retail giant sells. The company sells books and lots of other things, online. It sells enough to fill 3.3 million boxes of various sizes and shapes each and every day. Amazon uses recycled cardboard to make those boxes, and makes reasonable efforts to make sure those boxes are shipped sustainably, but beyond that, the company, which has been an innovator in so many ways, is really behind the curve when it comes to sustainability.
According to Richard Matthews, writing in globalwarmingisreal.com, ““Amazon has consistently ranked near the bottom of most relevant activist lists, from Climate Counts to Greenpeace’s Green IT rankings. Amazon consumes vast quantities of energy and resources. The scope and size of their operations invite scrutiny and demand leadership. To date, the company has demonstrated an ongoing lack of transparency on environmental issues. Amazons is not involved with sustainability collaborations nor does it publish a sustainability report or report greenhouse gas emissions to CDP. Until the company publicly reports its impacts, performance and commitments criticisms are justified and its reputation is at risk.”
Beyond that, the company has received consistently low grades from Greenpeace on their data centers and criticized for their lack of transparency in their Amazon Web Services (AWS) operation. They have also received flack for the treatment of workers in their fulfillment centers, as well as corporate office workers, in what a NY Times story describes as “a bruising workplace.”
Apparently, they got the memo. The company has decided to address this by hiring a number of highly respected folks to take charge of this aspect of their operations. Back in 2014, they brought in Kara Hurst, as the company’s director of worldwide sustainability and social responsibility. Hurst is the former CEO of The Sustainability Consortium. This past August they brought in Christine Bader as Director of Social Responsibility. Prior to this Bader worked on social responsibility at BP and wrote the book, A Manifesto for the Corporate Idealist.