OPEN LETTER TO JEFFREY P. BEZOS
Founder, Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc.
January 1rst, 2019
Dear Mr. BEZOS,
At the beginning of this year 2019, we had to write to you.
We are living in a critical time of unprecedented upheaval in the history of humanity.
Ocean is in danger. We are in danger.
You have more than anyone all the means and all the reasons to act.
Founder of Amazon, you are in first place in the 2018 ranking of Forbes World’s billionaires list with a fortune estimated at $ 112 billion.
You have extraordinary power; a power that far exceeds that of anyone else.
As you know, with great power comes great responsibility.
There are problems, made extraordinary by the fault of humankind, and that becomes essential to resolve urgently for the safeguarding of humanity.
Among these problems, there is one that you are especially associated with and for which you, more than anyone, have a responsibility: save the world from the plastic pollution that invades the ocean and decimates human life slowly.
Amazon ships 35 items every second. Just one of your fulfillment centers has the capacity to ship up to 1.5 million items per day.
Most of these items are wrapped in plastic shipped by Amazon around the world, every second.
Single-use plastics alone account for almost half of the world's plastic waste. Only 9% of the nine billion tons of plastic produced on Earth has been recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, in nature or in the sea and the ocean, causing a real global scourge.
About 13 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each and every year, harming biodiversity and our own health.
If nothing changes, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, then no more air on Earth.
The long-term perspective is a founding principle that you instituted at Amazon.
There could be no long-term approach, without considering the impact of all these items wrapped in single-use plastic, ending up in the ocean where it can be eaten by sea birds and other animals, and kill them.
For this reason, this pollution must obsess you. Doing something to overcome it must be an unrelenting obsession for you.
We need Amazon to invent the future of consumption.
With $ 16 billion in Research & Development spent in 2017, a share as small as 0.1% of this budget, put at the service of the research of solutions to eliminate single-use plastics from our lives, could allow us, as generation of this century to transmit to the future generations, a planet where human life would still be possible.
In the sea, the plastic is loaded with various toxins and contaminates the marine animals that ingest them.
The level of toxins increases and is more and more concentrated as we go back up the food chain, up to human beings, into the fish we eat, into our table salt.
Our way of consumption makes us responsible for the destruction of what allows us all to live.
Tackling this scourge is one of the biggest innovation challenges of our time.
Investing in the search for new consumer solutions to eliminate single-use plastics from our daily lives, is a matter of survival for humanity.
We need to do everything we can to reinvent a lifestyle without disposable plastic.
We know that passion for ingenuity and commitment to operational excellence are among the values that drive the now over 600,000 Amazonians.
Amazon must help us rethink what is now considered as the norm in the e-commerce industry (and beyond) when it comes to the delivery of plastic-wrapped retail products.
A recent study published in the Environmental Pollution journal, reveals that plastic debris has been found in a variety of fishes in Brazil’s Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon River. In total, more than 80 percent of the species examined had ingested plastic. As the Amazon is one of the largest and most beautiful rivers on the planet, the possibility that it can be invaded by plastic at a point of no return, cannot leave you indifferent.
We need Amazon to lead by example and do what so many say they would like to do, without having the ambition and the courage to do it now.
Amazon has a major role to play in reducing our society's dependence on this toxic material, which causes havoc in our environment, poisons human life in the process, while permanently and inevitably decimating the resources that make life possible.
We believe you can reach this high standard, for us, your customers.
Your vision of being the Earth’s most customer-centric company where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, is commendable.
Your mission to strive to offer the lowest possible prices, the best available selection and the utmost convenience, is honorable.
But beyond that, Amazon carries in its heart the destiny of something bigger.
Because as you write in your last letter to your shareowners, our expectations are never static – they go up. That is indeed what human nature is, and this is what it is all about.
Each of Amazon's more than 300 million customers, wherever they are in the world, is indeed a human being. There can be no customer care without human caring.
You said that by setting high standards, companies are able to live up to ever-rising customer expectations.
The publication of our “No More Plastic” manifesto has allowed many of them to express themselves, tagging Amazon as one of the most mentioned brand to act against single-use plastic pollution.
We believe that Amazon can change the world by ceasing to be the world's leading plastic packaging distribution platform.
This is the rising expectations we’re asking for.
This is the high standard we need for the future of society and civilization.
This is the high standard that Amazon must reach today.
Like you, we believe that to achieve high standards, it is necessary to be able to recognize what good looks like in a given domain.
By acting to eradicate plastic packaging as the de facto standard in the domain of e-commerce, we believe that Amazon will create a global precedent, for good.
And let us be clear: as counter intuitive as it may seem, you must not have realistic expectations for how hard it should be (how much work it will take) to achieve that result.
Realistic expectations are just the perceptions of what we believe to be possible, within the limits of our knowledge and our fears.
Stopping the bleeding of single-use plastic forces us to make it possible in the short term, what others – in their realism – will continue to perceive as impossible, until it’s done.
Ocean is in danger. We are in danger. And we must act now, with your help, to serve the greater good of humanity and the world.