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- March 11, 2020-

Green Supply Chain News: Bloomberg Says Amazon Evaluated but Rejected Idea to Push Customers to Slower but Greener Delivery Options


Report Says Amazon also Pushing Idea eCommerce Deliveries actually more Environmentally Friendly than Traditional Retail Model

By The Green Supply Chain Editorial Staff

The Green Supply
Chain Says:

Extending that logic would say the environmentally friendly thing to do would be for Amazon to take over the entire ecommerce marketplace.

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In the past couple of years, Amazon has taken a number of steps to make itself more of a sustainability leader, after years of criticism that is was a Green laggard.


Those steps included included a public commitments last September to have net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.


But, according to a new report for Bloomberg, that Green wokeness did not go so far as push its customers to slower but less eco-friendly Prime deliveries.


Bloomberg recently reported that Amazon’s quick delivery team debated asking shoppers to consider the environment when selecting delivery options.


In general, faster deliveries, such as same day or even one or two-hour shipping programs, usually involve sending vehicles out with fewer deliveries to make, rather than waiting longer to batch a larger number of orders together for deliveries. So, the energy used and CO2 emissions produced per order are in general much higher than for longer delivery windows.


The idea to communicate the environmental impact of faster deliveries to customers was ultimately rejected, Bloomberg reports, “because of the risk that shoppers would think twice before clicking Buy Now,” its sources say.


The article adds that “Amazon’s push to make its operations more climate friendly is at odds with elements of the company’s core business practices.”


And that leads some to question the likelihood of Amazon meeting its recently announced sustainability objectives.

“What they’re trying to do is create a climate and a culture of consumption,” Raz Godelnik, a professor at the New School’s Parsons School of Design who focuses on sustainability, told Bloomberg, adding “That means more products will be manufactured, more products will be shipped, more products will be returned. If you just look at the numbers, it means overall, a zero carbon contribution is not possible.”


Amazon has grabbed some low hanging CO2 reduction fruit, such as reducing the size of cartons Amazon ships to customers, and reducing the amount of plastic packaging in the products it sells.


The company also has argued that ecommerce is more environmentally friendly than the traditional retail model, which involves each consumer driving a car to shop at a store. But that math is messy, depending on how often consumers shop, how they combine trips and many other factors.


Amazon told Bloomberg that faster shipping doesn’t necessarily mean more emissions, noting that by placing inventory in its growing network of fulfillment centers closer to consumers and leveraging its huge order volumes, it is is able to deliver packages very efficiently. An interesting corollary to that point would be that if Amazon continues its relentless growth, it would mean more deliveries to more neighborhoods, which in turn leads to more optimized routes and, theoretically, fewer emissions per order.


And in fact, in 2019, Amazon deliveries started out 25% closer to the consumer than shipments by other ecommerce companies, according to data from Rakuten Intelligence, which tracks emailed customer receipts.


But of course extending that logic would say the environmentally friendly thing to do would be for Amazon to take over the entire ecommerce marketplace.


Amazon also hopes to reduce its CO2 emissions from its planned purchase of 100,000 all-electric trucks from a company called from Rivian (a company Amazon owns a stake in), with vehicle deliveries starting in 2021 and fully deployed by 2030.


So while Amazon appears to be making a number of moves to reduce its carbon footprint, slowing down its Prime delivery speeds does not appear to one of them.

What do you think of Amazon’s Green-ness? Should it reduce its focus on speed in the name of C02? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

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