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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Strategic CSR - Amazon II

In contrast to Monday’s positive Newsletter about Jeff Bezos, I have also seen Amazon lambasted for essentially being absent in the CSR/sustainability debate (e.g.,

“When Greenpeace examined data centres run by big technology companies in a report called How Clean Is Your Cloud?, Amazon was given an F in three of four categories, ranking behind Yahoo!, Dell, Google and Facebook. On electronics recycling, Amazon is also a laggard. Best Buy takes back electronic waste, at no charge; Amazon does not take-back of its own.”

Another example:

“Amazon’s shipping operation consumes large amounts of energy and the company has been criticized in the past for a lack of transparency on environmental issues. The Carbon Disclosure Project released a report [in September 2011] naming Amazon as the largest company in the Global 500, by market capitalization, not to disclose its carbon performance.”

With this in mind, I am unsure how to process the article in the url below:

“Amazon launched, a shopping site that sells only green products, including organic food, apparel, accessories and cleaning supplies made by  companies such as Seventh Generation, Method, Brita and Burt’s Bees.”

Is it greenwashing, merely an attempt to capture a growing market segment, or a genuine commitment to further the sustainability debate? There is some indication that the move is serious:

“Vine reviews claims of vendors to verify products are either organic, natural, energy- or water-efficient, run on their own renewable energy, made from sustainable materials or contribute to a healthier home, according to the company. Vine also reviews ingredient lists to make sure they don’t contain banned substances.”

As with most massive organizations, of course, the reality is no doubt a mix of good and bad. Another indication the launch might be serious, however, is that ( was acquired by Amazon in 2010. Although another example of a CSR-oriented, small independent firm being bought by a large multi-national, the acquisition suggests that the people running are likely to be sincere. As such, in contrast to an organic Amazon initiative, there is the potential for to extend its founding values across Amazon’s broad range of operations:

“Amazon plans to triple the number of items shipped under its ‘Frustration-Free Packaging’ initiative this year, a program which pushes suppliers to cut out excessive and hard-to-open packaging. Amazon has said it hopes the program, which grew to 80,000 products last year, will not only alleviate ‘wrap rage,’ but reduce waste and lower shipping costs.”

Take care

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Amazon Launches Shopping Site for Green Products
September 27, 2012
Environmental Leader