E-commerce and the climate: ecofriendly shopping!
E-commerce and the climate – people order and pay online and, ideally, the goods are delivered to their doorstep. Is that harmful to the climate or not? The topic of climate protection and the environment is becoming more and more important as time goes on. It should not only be a topic, but also lead to active actions for a better climate and furthermore also to a conscious use of available resources. Doing without disposable products like paper plates contribute to a better environment. Sounds logical and convinces quite a few people, but what about shopping? Does it really help the climate if we refrain from shopping online because we are under the belief that online commerce harms the climate more than shopping locally?
The most appropriate answer according to a recent study would probably be, “No.” According to a study by Oliver Wyman and Logistics Advisory Experts GmbH (a spin-off of the Institute for Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the University of St.Gallen), the climate is harmed more when people make purchases at established stores instead of ordering goods online and having them delivered.
“Is E-Commerce good for Europe” – A brief look at the study
The study “Is E-Commerce good for Europe” was commissioned by Amazon. The study examined the impact of e-commerce on retail and the environment. Analyzed in this study were mostly official statistics from 2019 and surveys conducted in 2020 within different countries within Europe. Countries that participated in the surveys are Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the countries Netherlands, Poland and Sweden were also included in this study.
CO2 emissions in E-commerce
Online shopping emits less CO2 than trading in established stores. Even if many companies with established stores operate in a more climate-neutral way, they do not have it as easy as companies in online retail. Lots of delivery trucks on the roads, possibly still blocking driveways, returns of ordered products and more such apparently negative experiences can quickly leave the impression that online retailing is not good for the environment, but Joris D’Incà, a partner at Oliver Wyman, was quoted by Handelsblatt as saying : “In online retailing, many goods are bundled together during last-mile transport. This and other points (e.g., the elimination of many rooms that need to be lit) then probably makes it easier for online retailers to save lots of CO2.
The study’s so-called baseline scenario illustrates that a trip to a brick-and-mortar store emits 3 to 6 times more CO2 than ordering a non-food item online. Emissions in the first case are 4,100 g CO2e and 900 g CO²e when ordering online.
Another scenario (average scenario), which includes many other aspects, shows that e-commerce is also the “winner” in terms of CO2 emissions. In this scenario, the emissions are 2,000 g CO2e for shopping in established stores and 800 g CO2 for shopping in online retail. In an analysis by Oliver Wyman, which is also listed in the study, it is made clear that stationary retail emits 2.3 times more CO2 than e-commerce.
Online shopping is constantly increasing, currently more than ever. Energy is needed in established stores as well as in e-commerce. Jobs are also created in e-commerce (in the company itself, production, supply chain). The bottom line is that the goods have to get from the retailer to the end customer anyway. However, the emission of CO2 seems to be lower in e-commerce, in relation to this study. Sometimes this will be a reason for private individuals to store online even more often in the future. For some people, the results of this study are a kind of surprise, because (as already mentioned), appearances can be deceiving due to negative experiences. But the more persons consciously deal with it, the more persons become aware of this study, for example. However, so that private individuals can be sure that shopping on the Internet works reliably, there are payment providers such as PayPodo, which help to ensure that shopping on the Internet can be carried out easily and securely.