Amazon accused of playing 'outsized' role in supply chain chaos

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Amazon and a handful of other major ecommerce players have been accused of playing an “outsized” role in the pollution and congestion of US ports.

The retail giant brings in plenty of goods from China and elsewhere around the world through ports on the US West Coast, on ships that emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. As they burn fuel, they also release pollutants that create smog and release toxic particles into the air. 

As a result, residents of the West Coast (particularly Los Angeles and Long Beach) breathe some of the worst air in all of the States, a recent report from not-for-profit states.

Zero-emission container ships

According to the report, Amazon, Target, Walmart and Ikea are some of America’s worst offenders in this regard. These four companies alone emit 20 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, as much as all marine shipping generates in two years.

“It is past time to hold these retailers accountable for their responsibilities at the ports,” Dawny’all Heydari, a Campaign Lead at Pacific Environment, told The Verge in a statement. 

“[Amazon and Target] will continue to favor West Coast routes, which means they’ll also keep clogging West Coast ports, spewing cancer-causing emissions and threatening our climate future.”

More than a fifth of the emissions studied by the two companies (21%), which is also the biggest share of all emissions, came as a result of ships moving between China and Southern California or Washington. 

To tackle the issue, the report’s authors argue, retailers should accelerate their shift towards zero-emission container ships and fully migrate by 2030. The problem is, these ships do not yet exist at scale.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.