Rakuten and the environment are inextricably connected. From the variety of products sold on Rakuten Ichiba to the travel destinations promoted on Rakuten Travel, the continuity and quality of our services and products depend largely on the richness of our natural environment. On the other hand, the operations and infrastructures that support the provision of our services can have a considerable environmental impact. That is why Rakuten is committed not only to reducing our adverse effects on the environment, but also to leveraging our technologies and innovation to create more environment-friendly options for our customers.
We recognize climate change as one of the most pressing issues facing society today. Changing weather patterns and the increased risk of extreme weather events affect global citizens as well as our operations. In order to fulfill our responsibility as a global company and align with our corporate mission, we strive to contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society. To do so, we assess and disclose our greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of reducing them throughout our value chains by improving energy efficiency, adopting clean energy solutions, and helping our customers reduce their own emissions through the use of our products and services.
As most of our diverse portfolio of more than 70 services are offered online, our operations rely on electricity, which, depending on its method of production, can result in the emission of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. For this reason, Rakuten is making continuous efforts to reduce its power consumption and to procure clean electricity.
Source 100% renewable electricity for Rakuten Group, Inc.-controlled offices, data centers and fulfillment centers by 2025.
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions of Rakuten Group, Inc. originated from electricity consumption (Scope 2) to zero by 2025.
Reducing Direct Emissions
Sourcing 100% renewable electricity
As an internet services provider, over 90% of Rakuten’s impact on climate change originates from electricity consumed at data centers, offices, fulfillment centers, and, more recently, our mobile network. Managing the sources of electricity that we use is key to controlling this negative environmental impact.
As part of our commitment to combating climate change, Rakuten Group, Inc. joined the international RE100* initiative in 2019 and is working to adopt 100% renewable electricity for all its business operations by 2025.
*RE100: An international initiative, RE100 stands for “Renewable Electricity 100%.” It brings together the world’s most influential businesses who are committed to utilizing 100% renewable power by 2050 at the latest.
Following our commitment, Rakuten Group, Inc. is on track to fully embrace the use of renewable energy, with 65% of electricity derived from renewable resources used by the services of Rakuten Group, Inc. in Japan as of 2020, which represents a renewable electricity usage across the entire Group of 19%. To achieve our 100% target as planned, we intend to maintain an annual progress of approximately +10% and to consider various sourcing approaches as described below.
Approaches to renewable electricity procurement
- Generating renewable electricity on-site
One principle Rakuten follows when considering renewable electricity sourcing is "additionality," which means contributing to the increase of renewable generation capacity in the locations where we operate. The installation of on-site renewable power generation with no grid transfer and local consumption is the most efficient way to source renewable electricity.
Rakuten Crimson House West, our Regional Head Office in San Mateo, California, has installed rooftop solar panels with a total capacity of 92.4 kW, supplying part of the electricity consumed at the office since mid-2020.
- Switching to renewable electricity supply contracts
On-site generation is preferred, but not all our sites have enough space or authorization for the installation of renewable electricity generation to cover 100% of our demand. In such cases, we make every effort to switch to electricity contracts bundled with environmental values or carbon-free electricity contracts.
To provide users with a sustainable accommodation experience, Rakuten STAY worked with its power supplier, Rakuten Energy, to switch to 100% renewable energy-powered operations at seven of its properties in Japan in 2020.
- Purchasing renewable electricity certificates
For facilities and operations where we do not have control over electricity contracts — leased properties, for example — we use renewable energy certificates with tracking information, such as the renewable J-Credit Scheme administered by the government of Japan, which provides the renewable attributes of the electricity consumed by Rakuten.
Rakuten Pay, our cashless payment service, and Rakuten Farm, our organic product retail service, were newly added to Rakuten’s portfolio of 100% renewable services in 2020. They use renewable J-Credits derived from solar power generated by households across Japan.
Rakuten has chosen buildings with improved environmental performance for some of our offices, notably LEED-certified offices. LEED, which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” is a certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Among our green offices, Rakuten Crimson House — our headquarters in Tokyo — is part of the Futako-Tamagawa Rise complex, which has received LEED Gold certification.
Reducing Value Chain Emissions
As e-commerce has become a primary means of shopping in consumers’ daily lives, significant environmental issues have emerged from an increase of product re-deliveries. Re-deliveries are estimated to account for 20% of all home deliveries in Japan and generate additional CO2 emissions of approximately 420,000 tons per year.
To address this issue, Rakuten is working together with delivery service companies and our customers to improve delivery efficiency. Rakuten Ichiba offers several alternative delivery options to customers: They can choose to pick up their orders at the closest Rakuten Box, convenience store, post office, or “HAKO POST” locker installed in post offices and other locations. Customers can also select their preferred delivery date and time to ensure that they are at home to receive their packages.
Synergies Within the Rakuten Ecosystem
Rakuten Energy has been adding low-cost and optimized electricity solutions to the Rakuten Ecosystem since its launch in 2012. In March 2020, it announced the launch of “REco,” a portfolio of power supply options derived from renewable energy for corporate customers. By adding environmental values such as Non-Fossil Fuel Energy Certificates to the electricity it provides, REco ensures that the power supplied to the customers’ facilities is essentially renewable, contributing to the reduction of their CO2 emissions. By providing sustainable options such as REco, Rakuten Energy will continue supporting customers, including Rakuten Ichiba merchants and hotels from Rakuten Travel, to realize business operations with 100% renewable energy. For more details, click here (page in Japanese).
Aligning with Global Frameworks
To constantly improve our reporting related to climate change in line with stakeholders’ expectations, Rakuten officially became a supporter of the international initiative TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure) in December 2019.
TCFD was established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in response to a call to action from leaders of countries participating in the 2015 G20 meetings.
Rakuten strives to implement its recommendations, which cover the following topics:
- Rakuten’s governance around climate-related risks and opportunities
- Actual and potential impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on Rakuten’s businesses, strategy and financial planning
- How Rakuten identifies, assesses and manages climate-related risks
- Metrics and targets used to assess and manage relevant climate-related risks and opportunities
Since 2017, Rakuten has been responding to the CDP Climate Change survey, widely recognized as the global standard for climate-related information disclosure by businesses, based on requests from global institutional investors and major purchasers keenly concerned with environmental issues.
More than 13,000 companies representing over 64% of global market capitalization answered the 2021 CDP survey. Rakuten's performance on CO2 reduction, governance, and business strategy and financial planning, was among other themes positively recognized by CDP's independent scoring methodology. As a result, Rakuten was given the rating of A- in the 2021 survey.
By implementing TCFD's recommendations and responding to the CDP survey, we strive to improve the quality and consistency of our climate-related disclosure.
Participating in Initiatives
In December 2019, Rakuten Group, Inc. joined the international initiative RE100, which stands for “Renewable Electricity 100%.” This initiative brings together the world’s most influential businesses who are committed to utilizing 100% renewable power by 2050 at the latest.
- Japan Climate Initiative
The Japan Climate Initiative (JCI) is a network of non-state actors (companies, local governments and NGOs) in Japan which are actively engaged in climate action and committed to strengthening communication and exchanging related strategies and solutions.
Rakuten joined JCI in December 2019, pledging to stand at the forefront of society’s decarbonization as envisioned in the Paris Agreement. In support of JCI, Rakuten believes that Japan can and should play a greater role in realizing a decarbonized society primarily through the expansion of renewable energies.
We are committed to reducing the adverse environmental effects caused by our business activities, such as waste generation, consumption of natural resources — including water — and emission of all forms of pollution throughout the value chain — such as during the production of goods and services, the use of packaging materials, and the delivery of orders.
Environmentally friendly packaging
For our delivery packaging in Japan, we aim to use the most minimal package size, according to the dimensions of the product contained within, to minimize the use of materials
For shipping boxes, we procure and use cardboard boxes made from 90 to 95% recycled paper. In addition, inflatable air pillows are used as cushioning solutions to protect certain products when they’re delivered — an environmentally friendly alternative to other packing materials.
For Rakuten-branded products, including mobile devices, we are working on ways to reduce resource consumption by reviewing individual packaging boxes, bundled items, as well as Rakuten Mobile store interiors and sales materials.
Promoting second-hand marketplaces
Rakuten has been promoting second-hand items across its various e-commerce platforms to respond to the needs of a growing number of customers who are looking for more environmentally friendly purchasing choices. Second-hand and refurbished items reduce the generation of waste and eliminate the need to extract the additional resources required when manufacturing new products.
In Japan, the C2C (customer to customer) second-hand marketplace app Rakuma is collaborating with various companies and influencers in the fashion industry to promote “Circular Fashion.” For example, in 2020, it launched an online store called “Circulable Supply” in collaboration with Baycrew's Co., Ltd, for the employees of this leading Japanese fashion company to sell their used items.
With two out of three products — 50 million products in total — sold on its e-commerce platform being used items, Rakuten France also plays an important role in promoting a circular economy. For its customers to better understand the impact of the second-hand market, 150 product categories were studied for their CO2 impact, and some product categories now display the amount of CO2 emissions avoided thanks to the purchase of a used item rather than a new one.
Trade-in service at Rakuten Mobile
To reduce the generation of electronic waste, Rakuten Mobile offers a trade-in service for used smartphones and tablets. The trade-in devices are sold as refurbished products through Rakuma or Rakuten Ichiba after careful inspection and deletion of personal information at Rakuten-designated production centers. For more details, click here (page in Japanese).
Electronic recycling at Rakuten Mobile
As a member of the Mobile Recycling Network, Rakuten Mobile collects and recycles used smartphones, mobile phones, battery packs and chargers from our customers, free of charge. This makes the use of precious metals — such as gold, silver, copper and palladium — contained in such devices more efficient, and avoids unnecessary environmental impact related to their disposal. For more details, click here (page in Japanese).
Our business activities are supported by the richness and diversity of natural ecosystems that our service infrastructures and operations may impact. The Rakuten Group is committed to complying with domestic and international laws related to the conservation of biodiversity, to conducting business activities with due consideration to biodiversity, and to mitigating any harmful impacts that our services and products may have.
Wildlife product trade restrictions on e-commerce
Rakuten follows all local and relevant international laws on animals and wildlife, including international conventions such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and comprehensive regulations such as Japan’s Act for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
In addition to these laws, Rakuten’s marketplace policy — covering services such as Rakuten Ichiba and Rakuma — also prohibits the sale of wildlife products including those which make use of whale, dolphin, ivory or sea turtle.
Rakuten is committed to working with our merchant partners to ensure their businesses are conducted and their products on our e-commerce marketplaces are sourced and produced with due consideration made to biodiversity. Merchants not adhering to these guidelines may be subject to financial and other penalties.
Sustainable production and consumption with Rakuten Ichiba
Launched within Rakuten Ichiba under the banner of “shopping that changes the future,” Earth Mall with Rakuten promotes responsible consumption and production by introducing a selection of sustainable products. As Rakuten Ichiba is one of Japan’s leading B2B2C e-commerce platforms — connecting more than 50,000 merchants with over 100 million members — Earth Mall aims to make a large-scale positive contribution to the realization of a sustainable society, not only on the demand side, but also on the supply side through merchant engagement.
Among the products on offer, thousands of goods feature international certifications such as MSC (responsible fishery), FSC (responsible forestry management) or Rainforest Alliance (sustainable agriculture), which ensure the protection of biodiversity.
For more details, click here (page in Japanese).
*B2B2C: A business model where a company sells products or services to other companies and those buyers sell purchased products and services to general consumers.
Sustainable organic farming with Rakuten Farm
Conventional farming practices are said to have an adverse impact on biodiversity. The use of pesticides can pollute the habitat of wildlife in surrounding areas, rivers and oceans, and the adoption of monocrops can affect the fertility of soils. In contrast, organic farming contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and the environment, and causes less damage to the health of living beings, including farmers. However, the percentage of all cultivated land in Japan which can be considered organic farmland was only 0.5% as of 2018.
Rakuten’s agricultural service, Rakuten Farm, is making efforts to mainstream sustainable organic farming in Japan. It operates farms in Ehime, Hiroshima, and Shizuoka Prefectures, where it trains farmers in organic agriculture. Its factories also produce frozen organic vegetables.
Rakuten Farm has acquired the Organic JAS (Japan Agriculture Standard) certification for both its farmland and factories. This set of standards not only ensures the reduction of environmental impact but also takes into consideration food safety, traceability and working conditions. For more details, click here (page in Japanese).
- * Environmental Data covers the Rakuten Group. Boundaries for waste generation is limited to large scale offices, fulfillment centers, stadiums and factories.
The environmental data indicated on this page have been third-party verified.