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Amazon Sustainability Goals — Definitely The Key to Its Future Growth

Sustainability is a mindset. A company has to commit to sustainability—until it becomes a habit and a guiding principle. In recent years, Amazon has taken this bold idea to heart and have made great strides in pushing for sustainability. It achieved this move with a top-down approach emphasizing that the Amazon sustainability goals are the key to their future growth.

Amazon Sustainability Goals Launch Question Bank

In 2014, Amazon hired Kara Hurst, former CEO of the Sustainability Consortium. She is now Amazon’s director of worldwide sustainability and social responsibility. Under her leadership, the company launched the Amazon Sustainability Question Bank, which provides in-depth answers to questions about Amazon’s status and directions regarding the Amazon sustainability goals. This case is a step forward in creating transparency and responsibility for the company. The question bank also serves as a feedback mechanism on how it can improve on its efforts.

In August 2015, Christine Bader came onboard as the director of social responsibility. She had previously worked with BP and is the author of “A Manifesto for the Corporate Idealist” (PDF). She is also a Lecturer at Columbia University and co-teaches a course on Human Rights and Business.

More Sustainability Experts for Amazon

In December 2015, Amazon hired Christina Page. She had previously led the energy and sustainability strategy at Yahoo, where her work put emphasis on data centers, acknowledging that this one was a big opportunity for sustainable energy. Yahoo then implemented a different cooling center architecture called the Yahoo Computer Coop which used ambient air and had a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.08.

Amazon also hired Dara O’Rourke as the principal scientist on the Sustainable Science Team. He was a former professor of environmental and labor policy at the UC Berkeley and the co-founder of Good Guide.

Amazon hired more than 50 people for its Sustainability Science group which also include: social responsibility; energy and environment; customer packaging experience; sustainability services; and sustainability technology.

Understanding the Challenge of the Amazon Sustainability Goals

The task has been huge. To understand the problems of sustainability for customer packaging, one has to note that the bulk of Amazon’s business is in e-commerce retail. In 2017, Amazon was the number one e-commerce retailer, with more than $94.665 billion in sales. This figure accounted for 70 percent of the company’s revenue. On the ranking, Apple was a distant second with $16.8 billion in e-commerce sales. To put Amazon’s sales into perspective, the company outsold all the rest of the top 50 online retailers combined.

To achieve that volume of sales, Amazon ships 3.3 million boxes of various sizes every day. The company makes an effort to ship the boxes sustainably—and have taken big steps in going further. Like most large retailers, it uses recycled cardboard for its boxes. In a recent interview, Kara Hurst mentions that the products can be placed directly in a 100 percent recyclable cardboard box without any excess packaging waste.

Other Sustainable Projects by Amazon

The company is also working on initiatives where the products would be sent without an overbox. Sending 3.3 million packages daily without an overbox could be an initiative for their sustainability goals.

Developments with the Amazon Sustainability Goals

In other developments, the Amazon sustainability goals also made big steps in the quest for 100 percent renewable energy infrastructure. The company has recently launched its largest wind farm. Located in Texas, it contributes 1 million megawatts per hour. The company also plans to install 50 solar rooftops on their fulfillment centers by 2020.

With all these initiatives and the internal infrastructure in place, Amazon is set to make great strides in sustainability and renewable energy self-sufficiency. Certainly, this fact is no less than a bold move that could set a trend for other global organizations.

Can Medical Marijuana Halt the Use of Opioids?

Known as a powerful remedy for treating chronic pain, opioids can provide relief. However, the negative effects of opioids are becoming more dangerous.

According to a report from the American Academy of Pain Medicine, opioids such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone are reasons for overdose incidents and addiction rates doubling. Irresponsible intake of opioids is now the number one cause of death in America. This ‘opioid crisis’ has led researchers and doctors to look for alternative medications to cure severe body pains.

Their study has presented various options but ended up with an unusual choice: the use of medical marijuana or medical cannabis.

Marijuana was discovered to have many therapeutic usages. For example, two of its active chemicals—cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) —can influence the mind without becoming high and can produce pain relieving elements.

Opioids and medical cannabis also share the same component called analgesia, a widely-used painkiller. Analgesia has the capability to block pain signals in the nervous system.

Jeff Chen, the Director of New Cannabis Research Initiative in UCLA, said, “We’re not just saying opioids make you feel good and so does cannabis, and now you’re addicted to cannabis. There are direct reasons why this could actually help people get off opioids. If there is a chronic pain component, the cannabis can address the chronic pain component. We also find opioid addicts have a lot of neurological inflammation, which we believe is driving the addictive cycle. We see in preliminary studies that cannabinoids can reduce neurological inflammation, so cannabis could be directly addressing the inflammation in the brain that’s leading to opioid dependency.”

Presenting medical marijuana as the newest antidote for chronic pain is actually an easy part. Legalizing it is a completely different story.

What Would Happen If Medical Marijuana Were Widely Prohibited?

Authorizing a law is not a simple task. There are many factors that need consideration. For example, what is the sole purpose of the law and how will it affect the society?

In all 50 states in the United States, only 29 have passed rules for permitting the use of medical cannabis. But because medical cannabis is uncharted territory, the remaining states cannot be blamed for not yet legalizing.

Despite the doubts, researchers and scientists are continuing to look for more proof that the so-called ‘forbidden drug’ is effective in curing body pains. But the discoveries continue. It’s been proven that cannabis has the ability to alleviate or cure symptoms of ailments such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

In a study provided by Medicare, officials found out that when the medical cannabis dispensaries were opened, the number of prescriptions made for all opioids have been reduced by 3.742 million.

Medicare added, “In medical marijuana laws, states typically specify a list of conditions that are eligible for medical marijuana, and most states have included in the list generic terms such as ‘severe pain’, ‘chronic pain’, or intractable pain unrelieved by standard medical treatment and medications.”

Medical Marijuana Paving A Way For Companies To Be Successful

Experts mentioned that by the year 2025, the market value of medical marijuana is predicted to reach $55.8 billion. The demand for medical marijuana allows companies that cater to the growing market to be recognized.

  • Green House. Green House is a well-known company in the Netherlands that has popular consumption clubs, globetrotting documentaries, and prominent genetics. The company is working side-by-side with its sister brand called Strain Hunters. Arjan Roskam is the founder of Green House.
  • Organa Brands. Chris Driessen heads the Colorado-based company. He is working to make Organa Brands the biggest and best cannabis corporation in the USA.
  • Canopy Growth. Being able to achieve a market cap of $3.8 billion, Canopy Growth is a force to be reckoned with. The Ontario-based firm manufactures and markets oil extracts, strains, and marijuana edibles. Bruce Linton is the CEO of the startup company.

Over the years, the healthcare industry has come up with many medical innovations that helped patients suffering from different illnesses. Using medical marijuana as the alternative medication for chronic pain is going to affect and potentially change negative impressions of medical marijuana.

The Growth of Cannabis Start-ups on Innovative VC Approach

The legal cannabis business in the United States was estimated to be worth $9.7 billion in 2017, with the global market expected to reach $31.4 billion by 2021. Marijuana is a growing industry not just in the U.S. but also in the rest of the world. Fueling this growth are hundreds of startups which are addressing various needs and niches. Along with these startups are companies which are investing venture capital, betting on the continued growth of the marijuana industry in the next few years.

Although the federal government prohibits marijuana, recreational use is legal in 9 states, and medicinal use is legal in 30 other countries. In 2012, medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington State, and the first outlets or dispensaries were almost strictly mom-and-pop stores which were heavily regulated. Nowadays, the investments are in another marijuana-based tech, including edibles, real estate exchange platforms, point-of-sale software, grow management software, cannabis-based social media, and others.

Venture Capital Funding

In a recent report by CB Insights, a list of marijuana-based companies with disclosed funding show a diverse range. The top three companies on the list were: Tilray, a healthcare company with $47 million in funding raised; Teewinot Life Sciences, healthcare, raised $19.3 million; and Green Bits, compliance and quality assurance with $19.2 million.

Separate from these companies are others with a more creative approach to funding. One of these is Privateer Holdings. This is a funding company which invests in cannabis tech companies. Founded in Seattle in 2010, it has evolved from being a regular venture capital firm to one that invests exclusively in cannabis startups and tech companies. Privateer Holdings recently had a Series C funding which raised its total to $200 million, on valuation over $600 million.

The cannabis VC firm disclosed that it has investments in 4 companies: Leafly, Tilray, Marley Natural, and The Goodship. Leafly describes itself as the “largest cannabis website in the world.” It was designed to provide services like those on TripAdvisor and Wikipedia and has 13 million visitors per month. Users can rate and give reviews on different varieties and strains of cannabis, as well as the dispensaries.

Tilray, on the other hand, is a Canadian producer and distributor of medical marijuana. It also delivers door to door to its clients. Marley Natural is the official brand of Bob Marley. It was developed in a partnership between his estate and Privateer Holdings and is based in Seattle, Washington. It offers cannabis in different forms, body care products, as well as lifestyle and smoking accessories. The Goodship, for its part, is a manufacturer of premium recreational marijuana products including chocolates.

Opportunities for Growth

MedMen used another innovative VC approach. It has raised $53 million in funding to build a chain of stores for cannabis products. What makes it different is that even with only a small amount of funding, it has a valuation of $1 billion. According to the company, it raised $15 million from Cap-Meridian Ventures in 2016. This was used to expand its presence in California. Almost immediately, it launched the MedMen Opportunity Fund I, a private equity fund which raised $60 million. MedMen Opportunity Fund II began the following year, raising another $78 million.  It also raised $38 million through a private placement in 2018. The company had a valuation of $1 billion, with Captor Capital investing $25 million for a 2.5% share.

There are diverse opportunities for investments in cannabis startups, and VC firms are willing to invest in them. It is expected that more startups and opportunities are going to pop up in the years to come, creating a bold impact not only in the healthcare scene but in mainstream economics as well.

From Asia to Europe to America – The Rise of Robot Workers All Over the World

Industrial automation is no longer exclusive to few selected companies. All around the world, the rise of automation production has been accelerating throughout the years. In 2015, an average of 66 industrial robots were deployed per 10,000 employees, and this had increased to an average of 74 units in 2016. Compared by regions, the average density of industrial robots in the Americas is 84, 63 in Asia, and 99 in Europe. These figures of density display no signs of holding back according to studies made by Internal Federation of Robotics (IFR). According to their report, the top 10 countries with the most number of automated robots throughout the world are South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Italy, Belgium, and Taiwan.

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Rise of Robot Workers Infographic

In China, the growth of robot workers has been noticed as the most dynamic globally. From 2013 to 2016, the density level increased from 25 units to 68 units due to the significant development of robot automations. Currently, the robot density in China ranks as the 23th place worldwide and the government targets to move forward and be able to make it into the top 10 nations with most industrial robots by the year 2020. In order to accomplish this, the country needs to rise its production to 150 units by then. China also needs to sell 100,000 industrial robots that are produced locally by 2020.

The Republic of Korea has been the country with the highest density of industrial robots all around the world since 2010.  The nation has exceeded the worldwide average by eight times, specifically 631 units.

This is the product of continuous installations of large volume of robot workers, mainly in the automotive and electronics industries. Singapore is in the second place with an average rate of 488 industrial robots per 10,000 workers in 2016. It is estimated that 90% of robots are deployed in the electronics industry in Singapore. Both South Korea and Singapore stand as frontrunner in the worldwide and Asian markets based on the number of installations.

Japan currently ranks 4th place worldwide. In the manufacturing industry, Japan installed 303 robot workers per 10,000 employees in 2016. The country is considered the largest manufacturer of industrial robots in the world. In the same year, it produced 153,000 units of robot, which is the highest number of production ever recorded. Currently, Japan’s manufacturing companies produce 52% of the worldwide supply.

Among the European countries, Germany ranks 3rd place internationally with 309 units. In 2016, the operational stock and yearly supply of robot workers had a share of 41% and 36%, respectively. Germany is Europe’s most automated nation, and it is projected that from 2018 to 2020, it will continue to increase its annual supply by at least 5% on average each year because of the growing demand for industrial robots in the automotive and general industries. Sweden and Denmark also contribute to Europe’s density of robot workers with 223 and 211, respectively. Denmark ranks 5th in the world.

In the United States, the density of robots had significantly increased to 189 units in 2016. US currently ranks 6th place worldwide. The need to modernize local production facilities have been increasing robot sales in the US since 2010.  This growth was driven by the current trend in production automation in order to boost the American industries on a global scale and to maintain manufacturing business locally, and in some way, to invite back manufacturers that had been deployed overseas. Approximately, 52% of the total sales of robot workers were purchased by the automotive industry that leads as the major customer in 2016. Sales of industrial robots will continue to grow in the US starting last year until 2020 by not less than 15% on average each year.