Sustainability examples at Amazon.com

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As mentioned in my first post, one of the purposes for this blog is to write about sustainable business practices. One of the great examples of a company who has been great in this area is Amazon.com.

Sustainability has been a fast-growing trend over the last decade. The concept behind it is what’s called “the tripple bottomline” – this basically means that any decision a company makes has a three-fold impact on the following: the economy, the environment and the society as a whole.

Below I am going to share some of the examples that you can find on Amazon.com’s Investor Relations page. This is public information.

  • Amazon.com has launched AmazonGreen (http://www.amazon.com/green), a cross-category program that includes a list of products that customers have selected as the best green products offered by Amazon.com and a place for customers to discover Amazon’s entire green product selection.
  • Frustration-Free Packaging, launched in November 2008 with 19 best-selling items from leading manufacturers including Fisher-Price, Mattel, Microsoft and electronics manufacturer Transcend, Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging, eliminates hard plastic “clamshell” cases and plastic-coated wire ties, commonly used in toy packaging.
  • Amazon has developed a software program that determines the “right-sized” box for any given item to be shipped to a customer, based on that item’s dimensions and weight. As a result, the number of packages shipped in a wrong-sized box has decreased dramatically, significantly reducing packaging waste and transportation costs. In 2008, Amazon also sent 35% of its larger-sized packages to customers without any additional packaging, further reducing packaging waste and transportation costs.
  • Not only does Amazon work on reducing waste in its packaging, but it also works on making the packaging more environmentally friendly. For example, most Amazon.com orders are shipped in corrugated containers which on average contain 43% recovered fiber content. Once used, these containers are 100% recyclable for use in the manufacture of other paper products.
  • Environmentally conscious Amazonians work together to implement environmental and energy initiatives across all parts of the company. Composed of hundreds of Amazonians, this group is known as “Earth Kaizens,” from the Japanese term meaning “change for the better.” Amazon employees at all levels dive deep into every nook and cranny of a process to identify waste and design alternative solutions that are more energy efficient.
  • Amazon’s technologies offer simple and effective ways for nonprofit organizations to raise awareness, collect needed supplies, and solicit funds.
  • A love of reading and an appreciation for the people who create great books is part of Amazon’s culture. It is one of the reasons why Amazon.com offers grants and sponsorships for nonprofit author and publisher groups that share the same obsession with fostering the creation, discussion, and publication of books.
  • As the CEO Jeff Bezos stated in his 1997 Letter to Shareholders, “A fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder value we create over the long term.”
  • Amazon strongly believes that the long-term interests of shareholders are tightly linked to the interests of the customers. If the company does the job right, today’s customers will buy more tomorrow, more customers will be added in the process, and it will all add up to more cash flow and more long-term value for the shareholders.

Company’s slogan is: “Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History.”

I am a firm believer that we are in the era where companies have to be accountable for their actions in regards to the environment, social responsibility, and economic impact. For this reason, I argue that the more companies that act in the way Amazon.com has, the better we, as a society at large, will become in the long term.


2 Responses to “Sustainability examples at Amazon.com”

  1. January 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you for the information on Amazon. I am very glad that they have a focus on reducing packaging. I never realized how much trash is created by discarded packaging and how difficult it is for consumers to recycle used packaging. I agree that companies are being held responsible and consumers will use their buying power to speak their opinion of those companies that are leading the way.

    • 2 Eldar Dzhafarov
      January 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Michael! It’s been proposed that the concept sustainability will really take off in this coming decade, even though it really picked up in the past decade. It will be great to see these efforts grow within different companies and different industries.

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My purpose is to write and share ideas about sustainability, best business practices, and personal and business ethics.

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January 2010

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