Oct 19, 2018

Amazon’s waste management and solar energy commitment - the start of a sustainability journey?

Olivia Minnock
4 min
Amazon has invested in solar and waste management facilities to boost sustainability
  This week Amazon announced new recycling and green energy initiatives across the US and UK, including an investmen...


<p><span><span><span>This week Amazon announced new recycling and green energy initiatives across the US and UK, including an investment into the Closed Loop Fund and a solar energy project. </span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>The tech giant has invested $10mn in the Closed Loop Fund, a recycling project which invests in the Circular Economy, to help improve recycling infrastructure in the US. It is hoped that the investment will increase the availability of curbside recycling for 3mn homes in the nation, diverting materials from landfill and as such, indirectly reducing the company’s contribution to waste through its packaging. </span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>Dave Clark, SVP Worldwide Operations at Amazon, said: “This investment will help build the local capabilities needed to make it easier for our customers and their communities to recycle and to increase the amount of material recycled across the country. </span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>“We are investing in Closed Loop Fund’s work because we think everyone should have access to easy, convenient curbside recycling. The more we are able to recycle, the more we can reduce our collective energy, carbon and water footprint.” </span></span></span></p>


<p><span><span><span><strong>See also:</strong> </span></span></span></p>

<p><a href="https://www.energydigital.com/renewable-energy/amazon-installs-3200-sol… installs 3,200 solar panels at logistics centre </span></span></span></a></p>

<p><a href="https://www.energydigital.com/sustainability/walmarts-2018-csr-report-2… reports 20mn tonne reduction in carbon emissions </span></span></span></a></p>

<p class="text-align-justify"><a href="https://www.energydigital.com/magazine/energy-digital/september-2018"><… the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine!</span></span></span></a></p>

<p class="text-align-justify">&nbsp;</p>

<p><span><span><span>The second investment is the installation of 20MW worth of solar panels in the UK to help power Amazon’s fulfilment centres across the country. It is hoped that this use of renewable energy will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by 6,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. </span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>The trillion-dollar ecommerce company has also signed a deal to purchase sufficient green energy certificates to ensure 100% of its UK buildings are offset by renewable resources. </span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>Many in the media had suggested Amazon was trailing behind other technology companies on the sustainability front, as it has not announced as many major initiatives as come of its counterparts. Especially since Amazon’s fulfilment operations produce so much waste in the form of packaging with no guarantee this won’t go to landfill, the commitment to recycling will be a relief to many environmental campaigners but is being seen as just the start of a sustainability transformation journey. </span></span></span></p>

<p>Speaking to Energy Digital, Duncan Clark, Operations Director at<strong> <a href="http://nextgen-nano.co.uk/">NextGen Nano</a>,</strong> said:&nbsp;</p>

<p><span><span><span><span>“While Amazon’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint is apparent from its latest pledge to install rooftop solar systems at its fulfilment centres in London, companies like Walmart, Apple and Costco Wholesale have been using renewable sources for years. In fact, <span><u><a href="https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/this-is-ikea/people-planet/energy-resources/… per cent of Ikea stores</a></u></span> are already powered by solar energy. For a company that prides itself on leading the market, this late adoption means it is following the herd.</span></span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span><span>“Amazon’s fulfilment centres are not the final stop in the supply chain. To fulfil orders, the packages still need to be distributed and it is in this area that Amazon should rethink its strategy. In addition to deploying solar arrays to its facilities, Amazon can also integrate the next generation of solar panels onto its vehicles.</span></span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span><span>“We are seeing rapid breakthroughs and developments in the field of flexible photovoltaics, including our use of lightweight organic biopolymers to make flexible and semi-transparent solar panels that can cover the outside of a vehicle. This could potentially allow an electric courier van to partly charge during transit from A to Z. </span></span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span><span>“Amazon accounts for the largest e-commerce market share of leading e-retailers worldwide and responsible for <span>44 per cent of all US e-commerce sales last year. This adoption is a positive sign of progression, but Amazon should aim to pioneer in the integration of alternative ways to make its existing operations environment-friendly.”</span></span></span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>Indeed, Will Richardson, Environmental Management Consultant and Founder of <a href="//www.greenelement.co.uk"><strong>Green Element</strong></a> told Energy Digital exclusively: “It is not necessarily playing catch up with other tech giants – it is playing catch up full stop…. With the recent announcements that the rates of recycling are not real figures, Defra estimates that the UK has exceeded its overall packaging target every year since 1997 and recycled 64% of packaging in 2017.</span></span></span></p>

<p><span><span><span>“It depends on how far Amazon are willing to go,” he continued, adding that if such a large corporation only does this as a ‘token gesture’, “in the current climate it will be pulled up”. </span></span></span><span><span><span>Perhaps, then, we can expect much bigger recycling and clean energy investments from Amazon in the coming months and years. </span></span></span></p>



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Jun 25, 2021

UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC

Dominic Ellis
5 min
The UK must put an end to a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices warns the Climate Change Committee

The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.

While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.

"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."

The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.

  • Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
  • Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
  • Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
  • Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
  • Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.

In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies. 

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society. 

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."

Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).

Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.

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