Since 2020, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program has helped customers discover and shop for more sustainable products. We asked Amazon's Adam Werbach how the program began, what the company has learned, and his vision for the program’s future.
Shaw’s annual sustain[HUMAN]ability® Leadership Recognition Program recognizes organizations working on innovative projects and initiatives that support the wellbeing of people and the planet. In 2019, Amazon co-founded and became the first signatory of The Climate Pledge — a commitment to be net-zero carbon across its business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As a continuation of its efforts, in 2020, Amazon introduced its Climate Pledge Friendly program to help customers discover and shop for more sustainable products, while encouraging its selling partners to prioritize sustainable product creation. Climate Pledge Friendly products have earned one of several third-party sustainability certifications recognized by Amazon or by its own Compact by Design certification.
And the retail giant just announced that it aims to follow suit for shopping sustainability with its physical stores, as well: The latest Amazon Fresh location, in Seattle, is the world’s first grocery store pursuing Zero Carbon certification from the International Living Future Institute.
Shaw recently interviewed Adam Werbach — Global Lead of Sustainable Shopping at Amazon — to find out more about how the Climate Pledge Friendly program began, what Amazon has learned, and his vision for the program’s future.
What led Amazon to conceive of The Climate Pledge Friendly program?
AW: Of all the customers who shop online today, about half prioritize and consider sustainability when making purchase decisions. As a company obsessed with customers, it was one reason we were inspired to launch the Climate Pledge Friendly program to help shoppers find more sustainable products. The program makes it more convenient for shoppers to discover more sustainable products; and it’s an opportunity and incentive for sellers to showcase their products more visibly to customers.
What early results are you seeing from the program?
How can your brand change consumer behavior at scale?
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AW: Just over a year since its launch, the program is continuing to grow. We now partner with 39 trusted third-party certifications — including Rainforest Alliance, EWG, Cradle to Cradle Certified and Fairtrade International — all of which are key to helping customers identify products that have a strong record of being more sustainable. With Climate Pledge Friendly, we’re doing the hard work on behalf of our customers — putting scientific rigor behind identifying the most credible standards, and building customer trust through transparency.
We also developed our own certification, Compact by Design — which certifies items, such as a Dove Beauty Bar, that remove the use of excess air and water or require less packaging, ultimately making them more efficient to ship. We recently announced that the program has surpassed a major milestone — certifying more than 200,000 shoppable products from over 10,000 brands across beauty, wellness, apparel, tech, home goods and more.
Brands that have products with sustainability certifications that are part of the Climate Pledge Friendly program have shared that the visible badging on product pages has impacted their sales positively. For example, since becoming certified in September 2020, Seventh Generation shared that its marketing for Climate Pledge Friendly-certified products delivered more than 60 percent higher click-through rates, more than 140 percent higher new-to-brand purchase rates, and a more than 40 percent reduction in cost-per-purchase for its products.
Post-purchase studies are showing positive signals in terms of customer support, switching behavior and repeat-purchase behavior, with customers switching to participating brands and purchasing them again.
What challenges have you faced from stakeholders? What went better than expected?
AW: Although we have made great strides in growing the program to date, we are actively working to continue to expand the selection of products and certifications. Customers tell us that they are not able to find Climate Pledge Friendly options in all categories where they expect to find these products; so we take that as an opportunity to challenge ourselves every day to move faster, because we have a responsibility to both our customers and the planet.
We are inspired by the partnerships with certifiers and brands, as we work with them hand-in-hand to showcase more sustainable products and promote more sustainable purchases by consumers. Certifiers wake up every day and try to figure out how customers can use their purchasing power to create good in the world. We’re proud to support them.
What’s next for The Climate Pledge Friendly program?
AW: This is just the beginning. With the continued growth of certifiers and our expanded catalogue of over 200,000 products and counting, we are hopeful that we can provide even more options for customers interested in shopping more sustainably. We will continue to seek opportunities to expand Climate Pledge Friendly across new categories and in new countries, growing awareness of the program and educating customers on the importance of preserving the natural world.
This article is part of a series recognizing the second slate of organizations to be honored by Shaw’s sustain[HUMAN]ability® Leadership Recognition Program. The nine organizations selected for this year’s recognition program have displayed tremendous effort and progress to support the wellbeing of people and the planet amid the unprecedented challenges of 2020. To read more about the other organizations recognized by Shaw, visit the landing page for this blog series.