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Amazon is harnessing the power of AI in its state-of-the-art online shopping facility: 'The model is constantly learning'

Making some positive changes is better than making none at all.

Making some positive changes is better than making none at all.

Photo Credit: iStock

In 2022, Amazon's sustainability report detailed how the company had reduced single-use plastic in its global shipping centers by 11.6%. 

It was a promising start as the company examined how it could reduce its polluting impact, but it was clear there was still some way left to go. 

Now, Amazon is turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning to make greater gains in reducing packaging

According to Sustainability Magazine, a "Packaging Decision Engine" AI model is figuring out how to package a number of items in the most efficient way possible. The system is being programmed to understand the attributes of a range of products, including shape and durability, to determine how they can be made ready for delivery using as few materials as possible.

"The model is constantly learning and has helped reduce the company's use of packaging material since it launched in 2019," Amazon's vice president and head of worldwide sustainability Kara Hurst told Sustainability Magazine, noting that AI is an "increasingly important part of our work to build a more sustainable business."

AI is being utilized in other ways, too, detecting damaged goods so that fewer items are returned – which would contribute to the item's polluting impact in transit.

Sustainability Magazine noted Amazon has stopped using single-use plastics in packaging and has instead adopted 100% recyclable paper. This, as well as embracing AI, has seen the company cut 2.2 million tons of packaging material from its output since 2015.

Amazon is making significant progress on other sustainability targets, too. The company aimed to achieve 100% renewable power by 2025, but by the end of 2022, it was already at 90%. 

It also has ambitions to increase the number of electric vehicles within its delivery fleet, with 100,000 models to be obtained by 2030.

That's not to say the company is perfect, though. Research from Electronics Hub, summarized by TechInformed, reported in 2023 it was responsible for 17.8 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution every year. 

So while these methods and policies appear to be welcome changes, Amazon's global polluting impact is still huge. But making some positive changes is better than making none at all.

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