In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon’s SEC Filing SD form filed in 2020 for details of the company’s policy on conflict minerals. The eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has long been the centre of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The revenue from the illegal mining and trading of the DRC's natural resources has been exploited to fund armed conflicts, and serious human rights abuses are connected to those conflicts and to the mines for certain ores. The ores are identified as conflict minerals and the metals that were derived from them (namely, tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold) exist in many consumer products including electronics. Ethical Consumer expected all companies manufacturing electronics, as Amazon did, to have a policy addressing the issue.
Ethical Consumer expected companies to have a policy that committed to conflict free sourcing, while continuing to source from the DRC region. Amazon’s report stated:
“We are committed to avoiding the use of minerals that have fueled conflict, and we expect our suppliers to support our efforts to identify the origin of gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum used in products that we manufacture or contract to manufacture."
However, no evidence was found of a commitment to continuing to source from the DRC region.
Amazon was a member of the Responsible Minerals Initiative. It provided a list of smelters and refiners, but stated: "Because many of the suppliers for our in-scope products that provided country of origin and facility information provided this information to us for their entire supply chain, without specifying which facilities contributed gold, tin, tungsten, or tantalum used in components of the in-scope products, we are unable to validate the accuracy of the list".
As Amazon had not fulfilled the essential criterion of having a stated commitment to continuing to source from the DRC region, it received Ethical Consumer’s Worst Rating for Conflict Minerals and lost full marks under the Human Rights and Habitats and Resources categories.
From SD 2020 (5 July 2021)