Though Amazon has had a troubled sustainability past, often being dubbed as a company that lags behind other prominent technology companies in their strides to be more environmentally-friendly, it seems to be making a change. Just this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company’s goals to be a decade ahead of Paris Agreement goals. Here’s what you need to know about Amazon’s sustainability future.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces new sustainability milestones
“If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge. We are excited to have others join,” said Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.
As the first signatory of The Climate Pledge, which calls on businesses of signatories to be net zero carbon by 2040, Amazon aims to be 10 years ahead of the United Nations Paris Agreement goals. The companies that sign the climate pledge would agree to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis, implement decarbonization strategies parallel to the Paris Agreement, and neutralize any remaining emissions by 2040.
Amazon has loftier goals
In addition to these commitments, Bezos announced an order of 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, a producer of emissions-free electric vehicles. In February, Rivian announced a $700 million investment round led by Amazon, who invested $440 million. Rivian’s vans will start to deliver packages to Amazon customers in 2021 and the plan is to have 10,000 on the road by 2022, then all 100,000 by 2030. This would save 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.
Further, Amazon is pledging to reach 80% of renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030. So far, amazon has launched wind and solar renewable energy projects that could be enough to power 368,000 U.S. homes. Adding on to the announcement, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Amazon is launching the Right Now Climate Fund which commits $100 million to restore and protect forests, wetlands, and peatlands globally.
The newly launched sustainability website will report on Amazon’s commitments, initiatives, and performance to be transparent on their progress towards reaching The Climate Pledge. On the website are various updates and information on Amazon’s commitment to sustainability such as Shipment Zero and the company’s renewable energy projects around the world.
The company’s troubled sustainability past
Amazon has a massive environmental footprint due to a high record of carbon emissions by delivering about 1 billion packages a year to consumers. The company has been a target for environmental activists who were disappointed in the limited action taken to offset the emissions produced. In the past, Amazon had withheld their emission data from the public, creating more suspicion and doubt against the company’s environmental efforts.
More than 1,500 Amazon employees plan to walk off the job to protest the company’s environmental responsibility as a part of a worldwide demonstration ahead of the U.N. climate summit in New York. While the recent announcement addresses most of the concerns of the protestors, Bezos noted that the company will continue to work with oil and gas companies because they have access to the best available tools for transition to sustainable approaches.
As one of the most influential companies, this environmentally conscious announcement could set an example for other companies. Nonetheless, Amazon had a past of broken promises in regards to their social responsibility towards environmental concerns, and it will have to show firm action to convince the skeptics of their commitment.
Min Cheong Kim is a Writer at The Rising, where she covers environmental sustainability as it relates to the world’s most acclaimed brands, both publicly-traded and privately operated. She is also a Philosophy student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This Restaurant Giant Is Making An Ambitious Commitment To Sustainable Packaging
With 12 Taco Party Packs and refreshing Baja Blasts, there is no question as to how Taco Bell attracts over 40 million customers each week in the United States. Unfortunately, each of these orders presents a more pressing issue: sustainable packaging.
Each year, only 29% of all fast-food containers and packaging are recovered. The rest accumulates in landfills, unable to serve another purpose in their lifetime. Fortunately, Taco Bell wants to address the issue of sustainable packaging.
Kicking 2020 off with a bang, the fast-food giant recently released a plan promising a sustainable mindset. Here’s what its plan is all about.
Sustainable Packaging: Recyclable, Compostable, and Reusable Products Only
Last week, Taco Bell announced its goal to make all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 world wide.
With 7,000 stores open across the globe, the company sits as one of the largest fast-food corporations in the world. However, with this comes great environmental responsibility. Fortunately, Mark King, Taco Bell’s CEO, is already preparing for the company’s future.
In his own words, “As Taco Bell expands its footprint, our responsibility to drive positive impact increases.”
King adds, “Our business growth in the last decade has positioned us to create change for good and implement creative solutions for our planet, our people and our food. We’re excited to shake things up and make 2020 even more about what matters most: our purpose”.
Fast-Food Giant Eliminates Chemicals and Adds In-Store Recycling Opportunities
In order to achieve its goal for sustainable packaging, Taco Bell is altering many of its products.
Moving forward, several things such as fountain drink cups to paper bags will no longer have PFAS, Phthalates, and BPA. Despite being found in many food packaging, there is an unsettling link between these chemicals and multiple negative health effects.
For example, research suggests that BPA, or bisphenol A, may cause cancer and affect brain development in the womb.
By doing so, the brand strives to increase its products’ ability to be recycled, compostable, or reusable. Taco Bell did not release any information on what materials they will be using in its future packaging.
In addition to this, Taco Bell will also be offering sustainable in-store options in the near future. As of right now, these changes include implementing recycling and/or composting bins into all restaurants (where infrastructure permits).
However, there is a possibility that the restaurant will soon be supplying reusable food baskets for dine-in meals.
Taco Bell’s Previous Actions On Sustainable Packaging
In 2019, Taco Bell banned plastic straws from all of its locations in Romania and Moldova. Unfortunately, the company does not have any official commitments on bans involving plastic bags or foam containers.
Reducing Its Carbon Footprint
There is no doubt that Taco Bell is ringing in the new year with ambitious goals. However, this is not the first time that it has tried to implement sustainable goals.
In 2019, the fast-food giant publicized 7 of its prioritized goals. Surprisingly, almost half of them can be attributed to reducing its carbon footprint.
For example, Taco Bell vowed to work to ensure that all its beef is sustainable, as well as to improve recycling efforts and include menu diversity for those leaning towards a plant-based diet.
Although already having successfully launched new favorites like the Black Bean Crunchwrap, it seems like Taco Bell hopes to continue this momentum.
As another one of its 2020 goals, the company is currently striving to be the number one QSR for vegetarians.
Needless to say, environmental activists, vegetarians, and flexitarians around the globe are all happy for these announcements.
It’s Time For All Fast-Food Brands To Use Sustainable Packaging
With its efforts, Taco Bell is one of many fast-food restaurants to begin adopting a greener mindset. Working with similar ideas, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway have already made sustainable commitments. However, there is still room for improvement in this industry.
Although there are many options for companies to reduce their environmental footprint, there are a few ideas that should be implemented as soon as possible:
- Reduce packaging or use of plastic wherever possible.
- Ditch hard to recycle materials such as polystyrene.
- Like Taco Bell, offer in-store recycling opportunities.
By doing so, monumental change can quickly occur.
JetBlue Airways Will Become Carbon Neutral By July 2020, Making It The First In US History
This year, JetBlue Airways Corporation may become the first large U.S. airline to go carbon neutral.
As the quickest way around the world, the airline industry engages with over 4 billion individuals each year. However, it is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Shockingly, a singular commercial flight produces more carbon dioxide than the amount that some citizens produce in an entire year. Taking note of the situation, environmental activists are putting the travel industry under fire and calling out its contribution to climate change.
However, amidst all of the criticism, JetBlue is choosing to step up to the challenge.
In order to do so, the company is set to invest in eco-friendly projects across the globe.
JetBlue Goes Green With Fuel Choices
In a press release publicized on Monday, JetBlue vowed to mitigate emissions and go carbon neutral by July 2020. With expanding efforts, JetBlue can offset 15 to 17 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is equivalent to removing 1.5 million passenger vehicles off the road each year.
As the leading project in its initiative, the company will be beginning to use sustainable fuel for all flights outbound of San Francisco. Fortunately, the fuel is already fully compatible with the existing jet engine technology.
Sustainable fuels, or biomass fuels, are any fuels derived from a once-living matter. For example, wood, corn, and other waste from agricultural crops are used in its production. This provides a sustainable solution to fossil fuels being popularly used today.
As of 2018, airplanes produce 11% of all CO2 emissions in the world and significantly contribute to climate change. However, by utilizing this alternative, JetBlue says that they can reduce each flight’s fuel carbon footprint by 80%.
JetBlue Makes Becoming Carbon Neutral A Group Effort
On top of its sustainable fuel swap-out, JetBlue stated that they will continue to partner with Carbonfund.org. As a U.S. nonprofit organization, Carbonfund.org focuses on reducing carbon emissions and creating climate solutions.
The airline company and the nonprofit have been working together since 2008. In the last 10 years, the two have already mitigated more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions.
On top of this, JetBlue now has new carbon offsetting partners. Adding to the list, EcoAct and South Pole are working with the company to promote carbon-neutral travels.
Airline Goes Green On Land Too
As part of its carbon offsetting program, the airline company is engaging with projects around the world to mitigate the overall need for jet fuel. Focusing on areas that will opt for eco-friendly, renewable resources, JetBlue is striving to lower emissions in the atmosphere when possible.
Currently, JetBlue announced support of carbon offset projects such as:
- Forest conservation by declining plans that will convert forests for other purposes.
- Promoting landfill gas capture (LFG) and converting it into renewable energy resources.
- Developing solar and wind farms to replace the need for fossil fuels like coal, diesel, and furnace oil.
JetBlue did not disclose the cost of any of its sustainable programs.
Collaboration Pivotal in Becoming Carbon Neutral Industry-Wide
According to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, the solution to this problem is a community effort.
“The airline industry is one of the few industries that has collectively committed to an international emissions reduction goal,” said Hayes. “Air travel brings so much good to the world and JetBlue has always been about making our essential industry better. Carbon offsetting is a bridge to, not a silver bullet for, a lower carbon future. Reducing and mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect of our business plan and our mission to inspire humanity.”
Hopefully, JetBlue achieves its mission and inspires others to do the same. If several other companies follow JetBlue’s environmental initiatives, the future of airline travels may be promising.
Spanish Energy Company Invests $500 Million In South Australian Renewable Energy Park
Recently, Spanish renewable energy company Iberdrola announced that it would invest $500 million in an Australian renewable energy park. Set to be located in Port Augusta, South Australia, the 320MW hybrid solar and wind farm will be operational as soon as 2021.
Why Australia for a New Energy Park?
Currently, Iberdrola already has over 30GW of installed capacity, in Europe, the US and South America. But at the moment, the company has very little presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Consequently, looking to Australia as a high-potential renewables market, Iberdrola believes its investment in the new energy park can be a good first step into the region.
Recently, Iberdrola’s Head of Renewables Xavier Viteri told Australian media outlets that his company has major plans for Australia. Indeed, Port August presents a great opportunity for wind power, and solar power is a formidable supplement, Viteri mentioned.
Perfect Location for Renewable Energy Park
According to DP Energy’s Australia Manager Catherine Way, the energy park in Port Augusta is “shovel ready”.
Based on the DP Energy website, the chosen location allows the project to optimize for balancing wind and solar generation. Moreover, its placement will allow for an approach that is more tailored to the needs of the electric grid.
Is the Australian Renewable Energy Market Coming Back?
South Australia is not new to renewable energy innovation. For instance, in 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk won a $65.5 million bet with the South Australian government by installing a massive 100MW battery in the state’s north within 100 days.
The question is: will Iberdrola’s new $500 million investment be enough to encourage other companies to bring back the Australian renewable energy market?
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