Q&A on Sustainability with Kara Hurst

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How important is sustainability at Amazon?

We are committed to a sustainable future. This is why we partnered with Global Optimism this year through the Climate Pledge to announce major changes to protect the planet 10 year ahead of Paris agreement.

Sustainability is incorporated into every part of our business worldwide. We provide information to our business leaders on how to invent and simplify products and services on behalf of our customers based on sustainability mechanisms. We aim to take decisions that will make a positive difference on a day-to-day basis.

Why have you launched the Climate Pledge?

We launched the Climate Pledge to take a leadership position on sustainability. By the nature of our business, we can drive solutions especially with our physical infrastructures and the boxes we ship all around the World. We’ve looked into way to decarbonize our business and we’d like to share this initiative with other companies and hope they will sign the Pledge and make that commitment with us.

What do you do to reduce waste in packaging?

We’ve been working on reducing waste in packaging over a decade. It makes sense for a business and for our customers to get products undamaged, quickly and with a minimum packaging. We always listen to our customers and explore ways to encourage Amazon suppliers to adopt sustainable packaging standards. We launched “frustration-free” packaging 100% recyclable, which is easy to open and offers an improved customer experience. We’re building on that with other sustainable packaging programs such as Ship in Own Container (SIOC). We’ve developed standards we’ve shared with packaging labs to incentivize suppliers to adopt similar standards to frustration-free packaging. We’ve reduced by 25% off our packaging waste, representing 665.000 tons of packaging, which is over 1 billion of boxes avoided. We still have work to do but we’ve made significant progress over time.

What it Amazon’s approach to reduce the destruction of returns?

When we receive a returned product from a customer, the first thing we do is understand if we can re-sell this product back. We might need to repair or refurbish it and then we can resell it as an open box. To avoid waste, we launched a donation partner program through “Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) donations”, which reduces our overall operational footprint by making sure that products that cannot be sold are donated to those in need. We have a whole series of responsible actions on what the next steps are for these products.

What is like looking after sustainability at a company like Amazon?

I come to work every day thinking I have the best job in the world! I work with other people who are thinking big about sustainability and thinking at Amazon scale with all the opportunities we can contribute to both inside and outside our company. It’s a subject in constant evolution which triggers a great source of creativity. I talk to sustainability ambassadors and other colleagues who always come with new ideas and challenges we haven’t tackled yet. With the Climate Pledge, we’ll continue to chase after a high level of ambitions and work inside and outside of Amazon with partners to really bring solutions to some of the World biggest challenges.