Amazon's Big Deal Day, scheduled for October 10-11, is an online shopping 'extravaganza' that promises exciting deals and discounts. But behind the facade of this shopping frenzy lies a disturbing truth that should give us pause.
Amazon, a corporate behemoth, has drawn considerable criticism for its treatment of employees and the environmental consequences of its practices. In this article, we delve into Amazon's dubious record as an employer and its wasteful policy of dumping unsold goods.
Amazon: A Shady Employer
Even though Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, had proclaimed a new corporate mission, aiming to make Amazon "Earth's best employer and Earth's safest place to work," the reality on the ground tells a different story (Times, 2021). In the United States, the company continues to strongly resist trade union recognition and in April '22, all eight of Amazon's logistics centers in France experienced labour strikes as employees protested a wage-related dispute. Allegedly, when employees spoke out about the company’s climate policy and called for stronger renewable energy commitments, they were threatened with dismissal #AMZNspeakout (Guardian, 2020).
Ireland’s First Fulfilment Centre
For many, the recent opening of Ireland's first fulfillment center has brought these concerns closer to home. It's no secret that Amazon has a track record of discarding unsold goods in various parts of the world. In 2018, Germany witnessed an exposé revealing Amazon's dumping of thousands of products, sparking outrage. Similarly, a 2019 undercover exposé in France unveiled the shocking practice of dumping up to 3 million products across Amazon's fulfillment centers in the country (Boylan, 2023). The scale of waste was not only detrimental to the environment but also raised questions about Amazon's commitment to responsible business practices.
UK's Disturbing Dumping Revelation
The situation escalated in 2020 when a British undercover exposé brought to light the stunning revelation that 130,000 items were being dumped every week in just one fulfillment center in the UK (Greenpeace). This staggering amount of waste raised serious concerns about the company's ethics and its impact on the environment.
The Environmental Toll of Amazon's Unsold Goods
The environmental repercussions of Amazon's unsold goods dumping are substantial. Not only do these practices contribute to excessive landfill/incineration waste, but they also underscore a disregard for sustainability and the circular economy. The energy, resources, and labor invested in producing these items are wasted, leaving a significant carbon footprint.
This year, Amazon strongly opposed Senator Lynn Boylan's 'Ban on Dumping New Products Bill'. In a greenwashing exercise, Amazon representatives highlighted to Senator Boylan their acquisition of three renewable wind farms, which are expected to provide power to 185,000 Irish households once operational. However, what remained unmentioned is the significant role their data centers play in contributing to a 30% surge in electricity demand within Ireland (Boylan, 2023).
Amazon Web Services(AWS) and Data Centers
According to a USA Greenpeace report titled "Clicking Clean Virginia – The Dirty Energy Powering Data Center Alley," Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been criticized for failing to fulfill its commitment to power data centers entirely with renewable energy. This should concern us, as Ireland has become a hub for data centers in Europe, hosting major operations for Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Currently, there are a total of 82 data centers, with all bar five, in the Dublin region.
Ireland already grapples with the tag of being one of the EU's worst carbon emission offenders and faces potential fines exceeding €250 million for failing to meet its 2020 targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Amazon has established its own environmental goals, aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. However, it's crucial to note that the renewable commitment applies solely to their direct operations and electricity consumption, disregarding more than 75% of their overall carbon footprint encompassing their supply chain.
What’s the real deal behind Amazon’s Big Deal Day?
It's challenging to resist the allure of flashy marketing, especially in an era when the cost of living is on the rise. However, it's essential not to be deceived. Amazon's Big Deal Day has faced criticism for its apparent lack of genuine deals. Many suppliers tend to inflate their prices to align with the surge of online shoppers, making the savings less substantial than they appear.
What Can We Do?
As consumers, we hold the power to influence corporate practices by making informed choices. While Amazon's Big Deal Day may offer tempting discounts, it's essential to be aware of the company's questionable employment practices and wasteful habits. Consider supporting businesses that prioritize ethical employment, sustainable practices, and responsible waste management.
Amazon's Big Deal Day, celebrated as a shopping bonanza, should also serve as a reminder of the need for conscious consumer choices. The company's history of labor concerns and wasteful unsold goods disposal practices raises critical questions about its commitment to responsible business.
As we participate in Big Deal Day or any other shopping event, let's remember that our choices have the power to shape corporate behavior and promote a more ethical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly retail industry.
Boylan, S. L.(2023, July 11). Retrieved from https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad/2023-07-05/11/
Greenpeace, UK. (n.d.).Retrieved from https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/stop-amazon-throwing-away-millions-unused-products/#:~:text=Amazon%20says%20it's%20committed%20to,thousands%20of%20sealed%20face%20masks.
Guardian, The (2020, Jan 2). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/02/amazon-threatened-fire-employees-speaking-out-climate-change-workers-say
Times, Irish. (2021, April 15th). The Irish Times. Retrieved from https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/jeff-bezos-says-amazon-needs-to-do-a-better-job-for-employees-1.4538481