The Amazon headquarters located in Seattle, Washington and Arlington, Virginia, U.S, serve customers worldwide. Key people include Jeff Bezos (executive chairman) and Andy Jassy (president and CEO).
Despite claims to be committed and invested in sustainability, Amazon’s fundamental values promote unsustainable practices. To function, the firm encourages consumerism through fast fashion / trends and faster shipping for customers, both of which add to the prevention of going green. Greener shipping options were overlooked from the fear of “alienating customers.”
Thomas Day of NewClimate Institute collated research that suggests that household brands like Amazon will cut their carbon emissions by only 40% rather than the 100% cuts claimed. While having low levels of transparency and integrity according to the research, the global giant still claims to be net-zero carbon by 2040. In response, an Amazon spokesperson states that “we set these ambitious targets because we know that climate change is a serious problem, and action is needed now more than ever. Amazon is on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of our original target.”
In offering free two-day, convenient shipping, Amazon brings on the alternative cost of having alarming environmental effects. The rise of e-commerce has also led to a rise in plastic usage, contributing further to the prevention of Amazon going green.
To improve, Amazon could implement greener modes of transport, as they currently operate vehicles with carbon-positive fuel usage. To put into perspective their alarmingly high carbon footprint, in 2018, Amazon emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — greater than the carbon footprint of Switzerland. Reducing consumption would benefit the environment as it leads to less waste, for example, however, as Amazon receive reduced profits, this is unlikely to change. Though as individuals, we can choose to shop smarter, with greener companies when possible, to help reduce our own carbon footprint.
Put simpler: Buy less, and buy better.
Founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, Netflix’s corporate headquarters are in Los Gatos, California.
The Netflix business model is unsustainable. Their infamous tendency to organise big-budget projects and then abruptly end them after a single season is a waste of materials and resources. Along with this, their business model encourages extensive use of the internet, contributing to digital traffic and subsequent energy usage. Electricity is provided by fossil fuels, which means the more internet usage, the higher the daily emissions.
Netflix is yet to announce a target for reducing emissions and has a long way to go in doing so. However, to work toward the goal of reducing their emissions, Netflix is using a tool developed by researchers from the University of Bristol – DIMPACT. The tool is essentially an elaborate calculator built to help digital media companies map and manage their carbon footprints, demonstrating the beginning of improvement. DIMPACT can give detailed information on a company's Scope 3 emissions – the pollution caused by suppliers and customers. Results found that one hour of streaming on its platform in 2020 used less than 100g CO2e (a hundred grams of carbon dioxide equivalent) – about the usage when driving an average car a quarter of a mile.
The dangers can be said to be due to when streaming digitally, emissions aren’t necessarily seen to come out of our phones when the reality is that streaming takes energy – this can make people oblivious to the environmental impacts. However, all over the world, server farms containing thousands of hard drives that store all the data are working, using up energy to supply streaming platforms. Not only do these server farms require a lot of energy to run, but they also need to be cooled so they don’t overheat.
Hulu, another streaming platform, has been making eco-friendly moves since 2018 when it was announced that it had improved its data centres to a new facility that’s 100% powered by renewable energy.
If you want to calculate your impact, you can do so by multiplying the number of hours you typically stream by 100 grams of CO2 equivalent per hour. If you stream 10 hours a day, that’s 1,000 grams of CO2 equivalent per day.
Founded in 1962, in Arkansas, United States by Sam Walton with the mission to “help people save money so they could live better,” Walmart’s revenue in 2022 totalled 572.8 billion USD.
Walmart has attempted to create the idea of being the leader in corporate environmental responsibility, with its sustainability campaign aiding this for their public image – however, it has done little for the environment. Walmart’s practices are still causing high pollution levels, and sustainable systems of production and distribution remain ignored.
The sustainability of Walmart is failing due to many reasons, including selling low-quality products, not addressing these short-lived products in their sustainability program, increasing greenhouse gases, and financing anti-environment candidates, of which they are one of the largest corporate campaign contributors towards candidates that consistently vote against the environment, including some of which who deny climate change altogether.
In 1938, Samsung was originally founded as a grocery trading store in Daegu, South Korea by Lee Byung-Chul. Today, the headquarters are located in Suwon-si, South Korea.
Comparing the technology of Samsung and their rival Apple depends on personal preference, however, when conscious of the environmental impacts, the clear winning is Apple. A Greenpeace report claimed that Samsung is among the worst when it comes to being green and has bad renewable energy policies. In 2016, they used 16,000GWh of energy, only 1% of which came from renewables. Receiving a “D” in Greenpeace’s 2017 Guide to Greener Electronics Report, Samsung has fallen behind competitors regarding sustainability and transparency. The same report placed Apple second to the most sustainable technology companies, losing to Fairphone, whose sole purpose is to be a sustainable phone manufacturer.
So how are the two brands that are such close contenders so drastically different? Apple’s 2019 ‘Environmental Responsibility Report’ stated that “100% of Apple’s global facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy” among other clear achievements from their effort to become a more environmentally friendly company. As a comparison, Apple’s new iPhones, iPads, AirPods, and Mac products use 100% recycled tin (announced in 2017) while the Samsung S10 is made up of 29% bio-based plastics, and the S10e is made up of 37% bio-based plastics (released March 2019).
Founded by John D. Rockefeller, in 1999, in Irving, Texas, United States, Exxon Mobil is “the world's premier petroleum and chemical manufacturing company” by the merger of Exxon and Mobil.
This company consistently ranks highly for global emissions. Their business model currently relies solely on fossil fuels, which contradicts their promises to position themselves for a lower-carbon future. Exxon holds the belief that its products are essential to modern life, and through producing those products, they are committed to protecting the environment.
In 2019, it disclosed Scope 3 emissions of 730 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is roughly equivalent to the emissions of Canada, with a population of 37.59 million. ExxonMobil has not set a company-wide net-zero emissions target consistent with the Paris Agreement (treaty that sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming) temperature goals. The company’s 2025 targets have been rejected due to falling far too short of the Paris goals and being inadequate for ignoring the vast majority of its climate impacts in the form of its Scope 3 emissions.
The Climate Action 100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark (an initiative to ensure the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change) finds that ExxonMobil meets none of the Benchmark’s targets criteria – ExxonMobil does not have either an ambition to reach ‘net zero’ or net zero-aligned short, medium and long-term greenhouse gas reduction targets which cover its emissions. Exxon’s short-term targets are not considered by the Benchmark to cover all its emissions or to align with net-zero pathways.
While it can be hard to incorporate greener outcomes into this particular industry, similar companies like Repsol S.A, an integrated oil and gas company, which carries out oil and natural gas exploration and production are progressing much further in efforts to go greener. In March 2021, "the company bid on pandemic recovery funds to support projects including new biofuel plants and 'green' hydrogen production made from renewable sources in a pivot away from oil and gas to supplying low-carbon energy.”
Edited and Reviewed by Tanish Bagga.