A business’s goals and the planet’s future don’t have to be at odds. The truth is that businesses won’t have a successful future if the earth cannot support human life. Companies need customers to buy their offerings and they need resources to bring those offerings into existence. Climate change threatens businesses on both counts. Investments in sustainable commerce are more than philanthropy; they’re investments in the company’s future.
One company that understands this mission is eBay. The online commerce platform has made its commitments known in their recent sustainable commerce report. To use the company’s words, “we work to integrate environmental best practices across our global business to support a healthier planet for our community and generations to come. Across our offices, we invest in clean energy, divert waste from landfills and create efficiencies in water usage. We also encourage responsible consumption through the resale of items on our platform, helping to preserve the world’s finite resources.”
Since inception, eBay’s normal business operations have had a positive impact on the environment. Given their popularity as a resale site, used products avoided the landfill by changing hands on eBay’s platform. The more consumers buy second hand products, the less demand there is for new goods to be produced. This combination of waste diversion and resource conservation has had a major impact on the planet. In the areas of apparel and electronics alone, sales on eBay have conserved 720,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. That’s more than the three million people living in Puerto Rico emit every year!
But eBay isn’t only sticking to what their company does naturally. They have announced a wide variety of goals that reflect both their abilities and their ambitions. Recent reports also illuminate eBay’s commitment to seeing their goals through. For example, eBay has the goal of powering their data centers and offices with 100% renewable energy by 2025. As of 2020, they were 74% of the way to their goal, up from 66% a year prior. One of the ways eBay has been able to make this switch to renewable energy is by partnering with other companies. Last August, McDonalds and eBay teamed up for an agreement to purchase power from Lightsource bp, the largest solar project in Louisiana. Not only is eBay making a difference in their own company, but they are helping other actors do the same.
In a more recent announcement, eBay also made it known that they will reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions 90% by 2030, using 2019 as their base year. Also included is their commitment to become carbon neutral in 2021. While these measures may seem dramatic, they are achievable. More importantly, eBay is taking them up in accordance with the Paris Agreement; specifically, the goal to limit global temperature warming to 1.5 ℃.
Keeping the planet habitable requires everyone to make contributions. eBay is not waiting for the government to act, and nor should their business peers. More should follow eBay’s example of sustainable commerce.