As I mentioned in my article introducing this series last week, John Furner, President and CEO of Walmart US, stated during NRF, “The role of corporations has changed, and it’s not about simply creating shareholder value anymore, but creating great employment opportunities, making a difference in the environment, and adding value to the customer.”
As demand for retail sustainability grows and as companies are being held accountable by consumers seeking more sustainable products and practices (particularly younger generations), Amazon has found itself in the crosshairs. This week, I offer my thoughts on another important pain point that Walmart is quietly exploiting in competing against Amazon as it works to elevate its position as a good corporate citizen. Walmart’s strategy of listening and leveraging the voice of the customer and aligning the right sustainable practices is paying off.
Amazon’s Climate Pledge Doesn’t Go Far Enough
Jeff Bezos recently announced on Instagram his commitment of $10 billion to combat climate change with the Bezos Earth Fund. The initiative is to help support scientists, activists, non-governmental organizations and any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world and to save the earth. You know what they say, actions speak louder than words. Let’s see whether Jeff Bezos and Amazon really change their practices to combat climate change and become more sustainable. He has long downplayed the impact of the “Amazon Effect” and the company’s one-day shipping on emissions and the environment, stating that it’s more eco-friendly to have an item delivered than driving to the store. This position doesn’t factor in, according to experts, multiple items being shipped separately. According to a piece in Forbes, Anne Goodchild, a University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering, said “as we move towards faster delivery, it gets harder to consolidate. When we’re not paying some sort of personal cost for the trip, I think it’s easy to overlook how much travel we’re adding.”
I came across this very interesting article in Psychology Today discussing how the growth of Amazon’s and other e-tail companies needs for boxes has brought once suffering paper mills back online. However, the article cites data that shows the decline in recycling, stating “last year there was a decline of about 300,000 tons in cardboard waste sent for recycling” and cites USA Today : “consumers only send a quarter of cardboard for salvage, a low number that is attributed to the fact that 40 percent of Americans lack access to or interest in curbside recycling (many think it’s an avoidable inconvenience).”
Last September, Mr. Bezos was very vocal about Amazon’s new “Climate Pledge,” committing to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early by purchasing electric delivery vans and committing to renewable energy sources and zero emissions. The news was long awaited by many in the industry, particularly as the company’s online retail business has been blamed by many for spikes in greenhouse gases, landfill volumes, and ocean waste due to transportation and packaging. But many at his own company did not believe it went far enough.