Updated: Is Amazon Climate Pledge Certification Worth It For Sellers?
Advantages, Challenges, and Program Updates
Update 06/09/2023: Amazon’s latest cost-cutting takes aim at Shipment Zero, an initiative that ambitiously aspires to decarbonize 50% of the company’s shipments by 2030. But the retail giant has now revealed they’re dropping this initiative and will instead roll their reduced carbon shipping commitment into Climate Pledge, a broader, company-wide climate action program.
Climate Pledge commits Amazon to net-zero emissions across its entire operations by 2040, a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement. To remain focused on this goal, the retailer has abandoned its Shipment Zero 2030 target. However, interim objectives are an integral part of trustworthy climate action plans. They serve as stepping stones toward a company’s ultimate net-zero goal, for instance.
Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (AECJ), a group of Amazon employees advocating for better sustainability across the company’s operations, has expressed concerns about the move and called it a “broken” commitment.
“It’s not just that Amazon isn’t doing enough to decarbonize and truly lead on climate, it’s actively blocking progress too,” the group said.
Journalist Will Evans from the Center for Investigative Reporting approached Amazon to inquire about the removal of Shipment Zero.
The company assured him that missing the goal was not the reason behind its elimination, although the latest data show they’re getting worse on climate. It remains puzzling. If Amazon was truly on course to achieve the 2030 target, why wouldn’t they embrace the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and celebrate their progress?
Profit vs Sustainability
Climate change policies can impose significant costs on companies. For instance, estimates indicate that completely decarbonizing the cargo shipping sector alone will require an investment exceeding $2 trillion. A substantial portion of the funds will need to be allocated towards the development, storage, and distribution of cleaner fuels and new designs for ships.
Amazon itself has already pledged $2 billion to its comprehensive climate program to develop sustainable tech and services. Though, it is unclear exactly how much the retailer forked out to try to meet its Shipment Zero target during the last three years.
One thing is for sure, transitioning to a net-zero business will take billions of dollars. And on the way, progress seems to have been slowed due to an increase in carbon emissions as a result of the pandemic-driven sales boom followed by cost cutting measures amid weakening demand.
In a statement, Amazon said they continue to work “towards powering our operations with 100% renewable energy, transforming and decarbonizing our transportation network with electric vehicles (EVs) and alternative fuels, using more sustainable building materials, and reducing packaging waste, among other areas.”
But if they can suddenly decide to drop some of their interim targets over profit, it becomes exceedingly difficult to place trust in words alone. The true measure of the Climate Pledge lies not in its mere aspirations, but in Amazon’s tangible efforts and actions.
The AECJ group makes the point to “have a different Amazon. One that doesn’t merely slowly swap gas vans for their EV versions, but one that actually centers business decisions around sustainability. Very soon, building our operations to rely on the Prime Air air freight system, where there is no carbon-zero version, is going to seem pretty foolish.”
Finding the balance between environmental objectives and profitable commerce is where Amazon and other companies with similar goals will need to focus in order to achieve success in this initiative.
Update 12/08/2022: Amazon has recently added five new third-party certifications to its Climate Pledge Friendly badge system.
These new certifications aim to provide badges for products across a wide range of categories, including household, furniture, textile, and IT (electronic gadgets).
- Business and International Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) Level. This non-profit organization evaluates the environmental and social impacts of furniture goods on the environment.
- TCO Certified, one of the leading sustainability certifications for IT products, such as smartphones, displays, notebooks, desktops, headsets, tablets, projectors, servers, network equipment, data storage devices, all-in-one PCs, and imaging equipment.
- WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that aims to make it easier for consumers to identify water-efficient home and commercial products like faucets, toilets, urinals, showerheads, and sprinklers.
- GreenCircle Certified, a reputable certification entity providing independent verification of sustainability claims related to a business’s products (e.g., recyclable) and operations (e.g., ability to divert waste from landfills or reduce carbon footprint).
- Control Union. Amazon recently teamed up with this certifier to make it easy for you to get your textile products certified and enrolled in Climate Pledge Friendly.
Read on to learn more about Amazon’s Climate Pledge program and see how it might benefit your business.
Is it worth it to badge up your products with the Amazon Climate Pledge Certification?
That’s probably what you’re asking yourself as Amazon continues to expand the number of certifications available to qualify for its Climate Pledge Friendly (CPF) program.
As you probably know, Amazon has been highlighting products with the “Climate Pledge Friendly” badges for eco-friendly items sold across its US and EU marketplaces to provide consumers with more sustainable and informed shopping choices.
Launched in September 2020, Climate Pledge Friendly is part of Amazon’s company-wide sustainability program called The Climate Pledge.
It helps shoppers seek out sustainable products by displaying certification badges from governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories on listings that meet the necessary criteria, allowing them to shop responsibly.
Amazon first rolled out its 19 Climate Pledge Friendly badges, including its in-house Compact by Design certification, in five countries in Europe last fall. The lineup has since expanded to 30 certifications, badging up a total of more than 200,000 products, as of December 2021.
Four New Certifications
In response to customers demanding more sustainable products, Amazon continues to expand its Climate Pledge Friendly badge system with the addition of four new third-party certifications.
“Customers want a way to make more sustainable and informed shopping choices, and Climate Pledge Friendly is ramping up its efforts to help customers know their purchases meet sustainability standards and are helping to preserve the natural world,” said Adam Werbach, Global Lead for Sustainable Shopping at Amazon.
These new certifications aim to provide badges for items across the beauty, household, and grocery sectors.
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safer Choice label. A badge for items and ingredients that have met the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Safer Choice” certification criteria for human and environmental health.
- EWG Verified. This label denotes that EWG verified products do not contain harmful chemicals.
- Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC). A badge for personal care ingredients and textiles that meet the strictest standards for social fairness, animal welfare, and soil health.
- Animal Welfare Approved. This certification guarantees that animals are raised on independent farms using sustainable farming practices.
Aside from partnering with external governing bodies to provide sustainable accreditations, Amazon has taken things a step further by creating its own certification, Compact by Design, which aims to identify products with a more efficient design.
Products that require less packaging and are more efficient to ship receive this type of certification. Slight differences such as removing excess air and water can make a product smaller and lighter, leading to significant carbon emission reductions.
Beyond the benefits to the environment and the potential sales boost a Climate Pledge badge might garner, adjusting your products to be Compact by Design could likely save you tons in Amazon size and weight fees by knocking you into a lower fees tier.
These updates are just some of many future additions that Amazon promises to make as consumers become more focused on making “green” buying decisions.
In fact, a new study from Empathy.co has shown that 35% of UK consumers want to buy from brands that source products ethically, treat employees fairly, and don’t abuse consumer data. Additionally, 31% prefer brands that are perceived as “green” and utilize eco-friendly packaging in their deliveries while 37% try to order within the UK to minimize their carbon footprint.
And even with lockdown restrictions being lifted, almost half of customers will continue to buy goods online and 30% said that ‘online’ will be their default option for shopping moving forward.
So, how do sellers go green and qualify for climate pledge badges? To get approved certifications, brands will have to submit their products to one or more of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly certifiers. These include Compact by Design, Fairtrade, Energy Star, Bluesign, EcoLogo, Carbon Trust, Global Recycled Standard, and more.
Advantages Of Amazon Climate Pledge Certification
So what’s in it for Amazon sellers and is it worth it? Climate Pledge Friendly products are labeled such in Amazon’s shopping results and at the top of the product details page.
They also appear in a dedicated sustainable products section, where customers can browse for natural, organic, and health-conscious items by category.
Aside from that, another benefit of going green is increased sales. Data from NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business show that sustainability-marketed products delivered approximately $114 billion in sales in 2018, up 29% from five years ago. Moreover, 50% of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) growth from 2013-2018 also came from these products, despite representing only 16.6% of the market. More importantly, sustainable products grew 5.6 times faster than their conventional counterparts.
New research by Trivium Packaging also shows promise. 74% of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, and out of that 74%, almost 25% are willing to pay 10% more.
That said, it’s safe to say that customers do purchase products marketed as sustainable. And businesses that will flourish are those who welcome these changes and are eager to make the switch.
Climate Pledge Application Process
In July of 2021, when initially reporting on this, the application process was challenging. For example, there wasn’t a form for applicants to fill out to receive a Climate Pledge Friendly badge directly from the certifier.
As of December 2021, Amazon has worked to smooth things out. According to Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly Certification Guide, you can apply for certification in three different ways depending on the type of product you’re selling:
1. From Certifiers Directly
You can apply from certifiers directly if your product is certified with:
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Blue Angel
- CarbonFree Certified
- Carbon Neutral by Natural Capital Partners
- Carbon Neutral/Reducing CO2 by Carbon Trust
- Carbon Neutral by SCS Global Services
- Climate Neutral by Climate Partner
- Cradle to Cradle Product
- Energy star
- EPA Safer Choice
- EU Ecolabel
- EU Organic
- EWG Verified
- Fair for Life
- Global Animal Partnership
- Green Seal
- Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB)
- Land to Market
- MADE SAFE
- Nordic Swan Ecolabel
- NSF/ANSI 305 Organic
- Rainforest Alliance/UTZ
- Regenerative Organic Certified
- Soil Association Organic
- UL Ecologo
- USDA Organic
Be sure to check out the guide to know the application process for each of these certifiers.
2. From Brands Directly (for Vendor Central sellers)
You can apply from brands directly if your product is certified with:
- Global Organic Textiles Standard
- Recycled Claim Standard 100
- Recycled Claim Standard Blended
- Global Recycled Standard
- Organic Content Standard 100
- Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)
- OEKO-TEX MADE IN GREEN
Amazon recommends getting in touch via Vendor Central to get started. Simply:
- Log in to Vendor Central
- Go to Contact Us and find Manage my Catalogue > Climate Pledge Friendly/Compact by Design
- In the subject line and body of message under Certification this Contact Concerns, indicate that you’re applying for the Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) certification and attach your GOTS Scope Certification.
If you’re a Selling Partner, contact your account manager or email [email protected]
3. From Amazon
If you don’t see your desired certifier or certification, you can submit a certification request to Amazon.
How to Claim Your Badges?
Once your product is Climate Pledge certified, your certifier will add your product to the CPF page for you so you should see the badge appear on your product’s information page after Amazon receives this update. No need to make any changes to your item’s product information. However, if you don’t see your product on CPF, contact your certifier.
To determine if any of your products are eligible for Amazon’s CPF program, use this CPF Certification Guide to find more information about each certifier and their requirements.