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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, films, games and other content we sell through our websites. We believe that our greatest contribution to the good of society comes directly from these core business activities.
Page last updated in May 2011.
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.
Reducing Packaging Waste
Since 2007, Amazon has worked with its shipping partners in Canada to reduce excess packaging in its shipments to customers and has introduced additional types of recyclable packing materials to protect items while in transit.Environmentally Friendly Packaging
Most Amazon.ca orders are shipped in corrugated containers which are made of 100% recycled content. A wide variety of box sizes are used in the fulfillment process, so that we can ship products to customers in the "right-sized" packaging, significantly reducing packaging waste and transportation costs. Once used, these containers are 100% recyclable for use in the manufacture of other paper products.
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 Kaizen projects 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:Lexington, Kentucky
Amazonians in our Lexington, Kentucky, fulfillment centre analyzed 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.Coffeyville, Kansas
At the Coffeyville, Kansas, fulfillment 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.Hebron/Campbellsville, Kentucky
Previously, when Amazon transferred products from its larger automated fulfillment 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 traveled and more than 175,000 gallons of fuel.
Amazon opened a new fulfillment centre in Swansea, Wales in 2007. During the planning process, 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 fulfillment centre now uses 40% fewer kilowatt-hours of power each month than originally planned.Milton Keynes, England Gourock, Scotland Swansea, Wales
Amazon receives new inventory every day from vendors across the world. Typically, this inventory is shipped 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 shipments to our UK fulfillment centers are now shipped without excess packaging waste.Bad Hersfeld, Germany
The Earth Kaizen team in our Bad Hersfeld, Germany, fulfillment centre determined that the high-rack and pallet area of their facility was being lit long before the first associates arrived to 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.Orleans, France
Amazonians in our Orleans, France, fulfillment 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.Glenrothes, Scotland
An Earth Kaizen team in our Glenrothes, Scotland, fulfillment centre analyzed the heating and hot water supply systems in the facility and learned that the heating was activated at all times, even during the summer months when none was required. Additionally, they discovered that their systems were supplying hot water even when it wasn't needed. The team updated the systems so that gas and electricity were used only when needed. As a result, the facility reduced their daily gas and electricity consumption by more than 90% per day--an annual reduction of thousands of cubic meters of gas and kilowatt-hours of power usage.Ichikawa, Japan
A complex system of conveyor belts is used in fulfillment 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, fulfillment 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.Guangzhou, China
Associates in the Guangzhou, China, fulfillment centre receive products for Joyo Amazon customers from many vendors. Once the products were moved into the warehouse, 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 kilograms of packing material per year.
Eco-Friendly Building Design
Amazon's corporate headquarters in Seattle, Washington, USA is made up of eleven sustainable, eco-friendly buildings. The US Green Building Council has awarded four of these buildings with LEED Gold certification for the project's sustainable design and construction methods. LEED, which stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," recognizes 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.
Many of Amazon's fulfillment centers around the world also have sustainable and eco-friendly interiors and exteriors. In 2009, four of Amazon's fulfillment centers in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Arizona received LEED certification for their commercial interiors. These facilities were constructed with recycled building materials and feature natural lighting and resource-efficient plumbing fixtures and lighting controls. Amazon's fulfillment center in Beijing, China maximizes the use of natural lighting, saving thousands of kilowatt-hours of power usage each month.