At Amazon, we believe that innovation has the power to change the world. As we strive to become Earth's most customer-centric company we constantly look for new ways to innovate on behalf of our different customers: individuals who shop our global websites, merchants who sell on our platform, developers who use our infrastructure to create their businesses, and creators of the books, music, and films we sell through our websites. We believe that our greatest contribution to the good of society comes directly from these core business activities.
Reducing Packaging Waste
Environmentally Friendly Packaging
Eco-Friendly Building Design
Amazon and the Environment
At Amazon, we're constantly looking for ways to further reduce our environmental impact.
Online shopping is inherently more environmentally friendly than traditional retailing. The efficiencies of online shopping result in a greener shopping experience than traditional retailing. This study explains some of the benefits of the online shopping model.
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 delivered in a wrong-sized box has decreased dramatically, significantly reducing packaging waste and transportation costs.
In 2009, Amazon launched its Packaging Feedback program, which allows customers to provide direct feedback on the packaging of their Amazon.co.uk order and to upload images of their Amazon.co.uk packages. Their feedback is used to improve product and Amazon packaging. Learn more at www.amazon.co.uk/packaging.
Most Amazon.co.uk orders are dispatched in corrugated containers which are produced from 100% recovered fibre content. Once used, these containers are 100% recyclable for use in the manufacture of other paper products.
Green Products on Amazon.co.uk
Our green store www.amazon.co.uk/green (www.amazon.co.uk/green) includes a list of products that customers have selected as the best green products offered by Amazon.co.uk and is the place for customers to discover Amazon's entire green product selection. Customers can easily find products that meet UK environmental rating systems when shopping on Amazon.co.uk.
Amazon’s corporate headquarters in Seattle is made up of eleven sustainable, eco-friendly buildings. The US Green Building Council has awarded four of the eleven buildings with LEED Gold certification for the project’s sustainable design and construction methods. LEED, which stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," is a national industry measurement tool created by the U.S. Green Building Council to define the industry's most environmentally conscious projects.
In addition, Amazon.de's corporate offices in Munich, Germany have been Gold-certified as environmentally friendly by the German Sustainable Building Council, based on their energy-efficient interiors and use of sustainable building materials.
In the UK, Amazon’s corporate office in Slough has a new lighting system throughout the building which is linked to motion sensors which switch the lights off automatically when no movement is detected. Each workstation also uses a Belkin sensor which conserves power by turning off inactive electrical equipment such as monitors, docking stations and phone chargers.
Our Dunfermline fulfilment centre in Scotland is our first in the UK to achieve a BREEAM rating of Very Good. Key factors in achieving this award were high spec thermal insulation, motion sensors on each light fitting to minimise wasted energy and extensive covered cycle parking areas for employees to use. A sustainable drainage system which uses porous paving in parking areas and a large balancing pond which filters and re-directs surface water to green field also contributed to the award.
You can learn more about the BREEAM environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings here: http://www.breeam.org
Environmentally conscious Amazonians work together to implement environmental and energy initiatives across all parts of the company through the Kaizen program, named for 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.
The power of the Earth Kaizens comes from the cumulative impact of many people participating in a large number of focused projects, each delivering reductions in energy consumption and waste. The energy savings from a single Kaizen project may not seem significant, but shared across our global network, they can produce meaningful results.
Here are a few examples:
Milton Keynes, England
Amazon receives new inventory every day from vendors across the world. Typically, this inventory is delivered in cardboard boxes, which is recycled once the products are shelved. In 2009, an Earth Kaizen team began working with vendors to deliver the products in reusable totes, rather than cardboard boxes, in order to eliminate waste and cost for both parties. As a result, one out of ten inventory deliveries to our UK fulfilment centres are now dispatched without excess packaging waste.
During the planning process before opening Amazon’s Swansea, Wales fulfilment centre, an Earth Kaizen team worked with the management team to determine the most efficient ways to light the facility. First, the team decided to increase the size of the skylights and windows throughout the building to improve natural lighting in the work areas. Second, the team had motion sensors installed throughout the facility so that lighting was used only when needed. As a result, the fulfilment centre now uses 40% fewer kilowatt-hours of power each month than originally planned.
Bad Hersfeld, Germany
The Earth Kaizen team in our Bad Hersfeld, Germany, fulfilment centre determined that the high-rack and pallet area of their facility was being lit long before the first associates arrived for work. Working with the local facilities technicians, the team developed a process to turn on the 2,400 fluorescent lights in the area only when associates were working. Their efforts resulted in an annual reduction of over 10,000 kilowatt-hours of power usage in the facility.
Amazonians in our Orleans, France, fulfilment centre previously disposed of all kinds of waste--from corrugate cardboard to plastics--in a single compactor. An Earth Kaizen team re-engineered the process to sort different kinds of waste into separate compactors, so that corrugates and plastics could be recycled. As a result, the facility now recovers more than 60% of its disposal costs by selling the corrugate and plastic to recycling vendors in France.
A complex system of conveyor belts is used in fulfilment centres to move products from their shelves into the boxes that are then shipped to Amazon customers. An Earth Kaizen team in our Ichikawa, Japan, fulfilment centre devised a simple but effective solution to reduce conveyor power usage by creating a visual guide that shows employees how to power down the conveyor belts when not in use, saving over 20,000 kilowatt-hours of power usage per year.
Associates in the Guangzhou, China, fulfilment centre receive products for Joyo Amazon customers from many vendors. Once the products were moved into the centre, the packaging materials were previously discarded. An Earth Kaizen team re-engineered the process for sorting packaging waste, so that cardboard boxes and packaging could be recycled. As a result, the facility now recycles more than 40,000 boxes and more than 8,000 kilogrammes of packing material per year.
Amazonians in our Lexington, Kentucky, fulfilment centre analysed the type of work performed in the bulk-storage area of the facility and learned that although a large portion of this area was not used during the weekend, the power remained on. Additionally, the team took light-level readings and determined that the area had too many lights installed for the type of work that associates were doing. As a result, over 120 lights were permanently shut off, and an additional 34 lights are turned off during the weekend. Their efforts resulted in an annual reduction of over 450,000 kilowatt-hours of power usage for this one facility; that's enough electricity to power 33 homes in Kentucky for an entire year.
At the Coffeyville, Kansas, fulfilment centre, conveyor belts are used throughout the facility to route orders through the packing and shipping process. Previously, the conveyor belts operated continuously while the facility was open. An Earth Kaizen team determined that timers could be installed on the conveyor belts, so that they automatically shut down when they weren't in use. As a result, the facility now uses 30% fewer kilowatt-hours of power usage to operate the conveyor belts.
Previously, when Amazon transferred products from its larger automated fulfilment centres to its network of smaller distribution centres, it shipped the products in single stacks of pallets loaded into trucks. Because Amazon's smaller distribution centres didn't normally use forklifts, they couldn't unload double-stacked shipments. After analysis by the Kaizen team, Amazon bought forklifts for the distribution centres allowing them to accept double-stacked pallets. Now each truck can carry twice as much cargo, resulting in an overall savings of 1.1 million miles travelled and more than 175,000 gallons of fuel.