Amazon launches ‘climate-friendly’ platform to reduce amount of packaging

Online shopping giant Amazon has launched an ‘eco-friendly’ platform on its website in a bid to reduce the amount of packaging sent to customers as well as minimising its carbon footprint.

The world’s biggest online retailer unveiled the Climate Pledge Friendly in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, claiming the new programme will make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products.

Amazon has been heavily criticised for its excessive use of packaging, often using large cardboard boxes for small purchases and filling its deliveries with large amounts of paper or plastic.

In a bid to cut down on this, customers looking to help the environment will now see the Climate Pledge Friendly badge on more than 40,000 products in Europe.

Amazon has pledged to reduce its packaging which has been previously been criticised

The badge signifies the products have one or more of 19 different sustainability certifications that help ‘preserve the natural world’, such as reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers.

The selection of products cover a range of sectors and include items such as plastic-free shampoo bars and refillable cleaning sprays.

As part of the new initiative, Amazon is also introducing a new externally-validated certification called Compact by Design in Europe which identifies products that have a more efficient design.

For example, this could be by using less packaging, changing the shape of the packaging or using packaging with less weight.  

Amazon claims that with the removal of excess air and water, products require less packaging and become more efficient to ship. 

It hopes that, at scale, these small differences in product size and weight could lead to significant carbon emission reductions.

It has also partnered with a range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits and independent laboratories, to help it distinguish more sustainable products. 

Green: Campaigners have said that Amazon isn't going far enough with its new campaign

Green: Campaigners have said that Amazon isn’t going far enough with its new campaign

Doug Gurr, Amazon UK country manager, said: ‘Climate Pledge Friendly is a simple way for our customers to discover more sustainable products that help preserve the natural world.

‘With 18 external certification programmes and our own new Compact by Design certification, we’re incentivising selling partners to create sustainable products that help protect the planet for future generations.’

Environmental experts, however, say it doesn’t go far enough.

Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK senior campaigner, said: ‘Amazon sells millions of products and this latest initiative covers just a tiny fraction of the total. 

‘By certifying only a limited range of goods, Amazon is implicitly admitting that the rest of its business model isn’t up to scratch.

As a company that thrives upon people buying more and more stuff, Amazon has a very long journey ahead of it before it could ever be thought of as green.

Mike Childs – Friends of the Earth 

‘The environmental and climate crises we are facing demand more than token gestures and piecemeal action.

‘Corporate giants like Amazon need to take more responsibility to fundamentally shift their consumers away from a culture of single-use products and packaging, as well as setting clear, transparent targets on carbon emissions, packaging reduction, and deforestation that their customers can hold them to.’ 

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, added: ‘Most people want to choose products that don’t harm the environment, so this initiative is a small step in the right direction.

‘But, as a company that thrives upon people buying more and more stuff, Amazon has a very long journey ahead of it before it could ever be thought of as green.

‘Will greener products appear higher in searches? And other products be labelled as climate-unfriendly?

‘Ultimately we need legally-binding standards and regulations to ensure all products meet the very highest environmental standards, and that every company plays its part in building a greener, fairer future for us all.’

The online giant was criticised last year after introducing new packaging that couldn’t be recycled. 

The small plastic envelopes that are used were deemed not widely recyclable in the UK on Amazon’s website. 

Amazon Prime, the websites one day delivery service for Prime members, has also been called out before by experts who say it has meant there are more delivery vehicles on the streets. 

Events like Amazon Prime Day have also contributed to a frenzy of online shopping with the site promising to have everything delivered within 24 hours, meaning more drivers.  

However, Amazon said the Climate Pledge Friendly initiative supports its commitment to reach the Paris Agreement ten years early and be net-zero carbon by 2040.

It added it is working to minimise waste, increase recycling and provide options for customers to reuse, repair, and recycle products.

As part of this effort it is removing a wide range of single-use and oxo-biodegradable plastic products from its websites across Europe and the UK to help prevent plastic waste.

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