Rakuten goes carbon neutral in 2023

Rakuten is thrilled to announce that in 2023 the company achieved carbon neutrality for its business operations – including all consolidated subsidiaries*. The milestone reflects the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility, as the world grapples with the escalating challenges posed by climate change and rising global temperatures.

Celebrating the milestone, Koyuru Ohashi, Vice General Manager of Rakuten’s Environmental Management Promotion Department said, “Rakuten Group set an ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality across the Group in 2023 as part of our mission to empower people and society through innovation. I am immensely proud of the team who made this achievement possible, as we mark a crucial step on our path to becoming a leading sustainable company.”

What gets measured gets managed

With over 70 services worldwide spanning a diverse range of industries from fintech to mobile, reducing carbon emissions across the entire Rakuten Group is no simple task. Ohashi emphasized that gathering accurate data on current emissions was the first challenge facing the team when they set about working on carbon neutrality.

“The scope of Rakuten Group’s business is extremely broad, making it difficult to track CO2 emissions for each company across the Group.” To overcome this, Ohashi’s team took a cross-departmental approach, bringing in the expertise of other Rakuten units.

The Environmental Management Promotion Department collaborated with multiple Rakuten businesses to implement its carbon neutrality strategy.
The Environmental Management Promotion Department collaborated with multiple Rakuten businesses to implement its carbon neutrality strategy.

“We partnered closely with Rakuten’s Corporate IT Department to develop unique tools for aggregating the necessary data for calculating CO2 emissions. Thanks to support from the IT department and other teams within the Group, we were able to soon collate the emissions data we needed.”

Powering sustainability through solar and energy efficiencies

Next, the Environmental Management Promotion Department – equipped with the tools for measuring Group carbon emissions – began implementing its strategy to reduce energy consumption and adopt renewable energy at each Group company.

“At Rakuten’s headquarters, we established rules for temperature settings and operating hours for air conditioning in the building, reducing electricity consumption,” Ohashi explains. “Data centers are also large consumers of electricity, so we targeted these facilities. By adjusting server racks with panels to optimize cooling efficiency, we were able to reduce electricity consumption here significantly on an annual basis.”

Reducing electricity consumption was only one part of the equation, however. “More than 90% of the Rakuten Group’s energy consumption comes from electricity use. Controlling the source of electricity is therefore a crucial part of reducing our environmental impact,” Ohashi points out. “In parallel with our efficiency initiatives, we promoted the switch to renewable energy sources, achieving 100% renewable energy for the Group as a whole in 2023.”

The investment in renewable energy sources included the installation of a massive 4,300 solar panels at Rakuten’s fulfillment center in Matsudo City and solar panels at its San Mateo headquarters.

Rakuten’s logistics center in Matsudo City.
Rakuten’s fulfillment center in Matsudo City.

Widening the scope: Science Based Targets Initiative

Reaching carbon neutrality in 2023 – although a significant milestone to be celebrated – was not Rakuten’s end goal, but rather one checkpoint on the path to becoming a more sustainable company. Ohashi and the Environmental Management Promotion Department already have their eyes on the next project.

“We are currently preparing to set new targets and have them validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative, a globally recognized climate action organization enabling emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement,” Ohashi says. “This will include the expansion of our emissions reduction goals to include our whole supply chain, also known as scope 3 emissions.”

Koyuru Ohashi, Vice General Manager of Rakuten’s Environmental Management Promotion Department.
Koyuru Ohashi, Vice General Manager of Rakuten’s Environmental Management Promotion Department.

Leveraging the power of AI to realize sustainability gains is another area the team is focusing on. “Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony recently demonstrated a project using AI and machine learning to optimize base station operations. This enabled energy savings of up to 25%, depending on traffic patterns and the application scope of the RAN Intelligent Controller. We want to maximize these kinds of initiatives that use AI and technology to further reduce Rakuten’s environmental footprint.”

With its mission to contribute to society by creating value through innovation and entrepreneurship, Rakuten will continue to work together with all stakeholders including customers, partners, communities and employees to realize a sustainable society.


* For more information on Rakuten’s carbon neutrality milestone and what it means, check out the full announcement here.

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