Amazon vans line up at a distribution center to pick up packages for Amazon Prime Day delivery in Orlando, Florida.
Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Amazon’s carbon footprint jumped 18% last year as the company adjusted to a pandemic-induced surge in e-commerce and expanded its business to meet that extra demand.
In its annual sustainability report released Monday, Amazon said its operations emitted the equivalent of 71.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021. That’s 18 percent more than 2020 and an increase of nearly 40 percent from 2019, the year Amazon first began disclosing its carbon footprint.
Amazon cut its carbon intensity, which measures emissions per dollar of sales, by 1.9% in 2021, compared to a 16% drop in 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a huge influx of orders to Amazon and other e-commerce companies. Many consumers cheated of money from stimulus checks chose to shop online to avoid the risk of exposure to the virus.
This wave of demand has led Amazon to expand its logistics network of delivery vans, planes and trucks. It also quickly opened new warehouses to handle the flow of orders. In the year ending 2021, Amazon doubled the size of the fulfillment network it had built over the previous 25 years, the company said.
The company has also added more data centers to support Amazon Web Services as the pandemic has accelerated corporations’ move to the cloud.
Amazon unveiled its “Climate Pledge” in 2019. As part of the plan, the e-commerce giant committed to being carbon neutral by 2040 and purchased 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian Automotive, which it expects to have on the road across the US by 2030. It has also launched a $2 billion venture capital fund to invest in new climate technologies, in part so they can be used to meet its sustainability goals.
However, Amazon’s climate record and the ways in which it measures its own environmental record are under scrutiny. A report earlier this year by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting found that the company, unlike major retailers like Target and Walmart, only accounts for product carbon emissions from using Amazon-branded goods, not those it buys from manufacturers and sells directly to the customer.
An Amazon spokesperson did not directly address the reporting discrepancy, but said the company follows guidance from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard when determining its Scope 3 emissions, or emissions generated by the company’s supply chain.
The spokesperson added that Amazon’s third-party sellers “monitor their own carbon reporting.”
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