Amazon aims to make 50pc of its shipments carbon-neutral by 2030

19 Feb 2019

Amazon delivery package. Image: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

Amazon says it is focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of its shipments.

Amazon yesterday (18 February) announced it aims to reach 50pc of all shipments with net zero carbon by 2030. The new initiative is called ‘Shipment Zero’.

Outlining its goals

Amazon said it plans to publish its overall carbon footprint later this year. It added that it was making progress on its long-term goal of powering its global infrastructure 100pc with renewable energy.

It claims to have been creating an “advanced scientific model” to map the overall carbon footprint and give different company teams data they can use to reduce their respective outputs.

Amazon also has several programmes including Ship in Own Container and Frustration Free Packaging, which aim to reduce the environmental impact of the packaging that comes as standard with deliveries.

The company said it has more than 200 scientists, engineers and product engineers that are “dedicated exclusively to inventing new ways to leverage our scale for the good of customers and the planet”.

Greenpeace criticism

The e-commerce giant is not without its issues, though. Earlier this month, a report from environmental organisation, Greenpeace claimed that despite high-profile promises around powering its data centres with 100pc renewable energy, Amazon Web Services is allegedly only meeting 12pc of its renewable energy commitments in Virginia: “Amazon Web Services, already one of the largest electricity customers in the state, appears to have abandoned its commitment to renewable energy, with evidence of a dramatic expansion in Virginia over the past two years without any additional supply of renewable energy.”

The Greenpeace report said that Amazon’s data centres in Virginia are powered by only 12pc renewable energy, compared with those in the state owned by Microsoft and Facebook, at 34pc and 37pc, respectively.

According to Greenpeace, some 70pc of the world’s internet traffic passes through data centres in Virginia, giving the northern part of the state the nickname ‘Data Center Alley’.

Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner for Greenpeace USA, called on the company to take more responsibility for the energy used to power its data centres: “Even before Amazon announced Northern Virginia would be its HQ2, the company was already a major electricity customer in the state.

“Without intervention from data centre operators in Virginia like Amazon, the internet will continue to drive carbon emissions with every click, swipe and share. It’s time for Jeff Bezos to think beyond profit and accept responsibility for Amazon’s impact on the global climate.”

Amazon disputes Greenpeace data

Amazon told Windpower Engineering that the data Greenpeace used in its report was inaccurate. It said the organisation “did not perform proper due diligence by fact-checking with AWS before publishing”.

It said that the Greenpeace estimates overstate both AWS’s current and projected energy usage: “Additionally, the report does not properly highlight that AWS has been a major investor in solar projects across the commonwealth of Virginia and played a leading role in making it easier for us and other companies to bring more renewable energy to Virginia through our market-based rate with Dominion Virginia Power.

“As of December 2018, Amazon and AWS have invested in 53 renewable energy projects (six of which are in Virginia), totalling over 1,016 MW and are expected to deliver [more than 3m] megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy annually.”

Amazon delivery package. Image: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects