According to research cited in the yStats.com report, online shopping can have a lower carbon footprint as compared to in-store shopping. However, how much lower the impact depends on multiple factors, including whether customers drive to retail stores by car or other means of transportation and whether they return items purchased online, and if so, to which location and by which means of transportation. Among the biggest emission sources for online shopping the source lists last-mile delivery and energy consumption for IT, whereas for traditional shopping, these include energy consumption of building and consumer’s trip to physical store.
Many E-Commerce companies, including Amazon, Alibaba.com, Zalando, and OTTO are implementing measures to lower their environmental impact. These range from investment in electric vehicles, renewable energy, introducing reusable mailing bags, optimizing packaging material use, eliminating single-use plastic materials from packaging, among others.
Also, many companies, as well as start-ups, are emerging on the E-Commerce scene with fixes to environmental issues. Some of them focus on reverse logistics; others dedicate themselves to last-mile delivery, returns and packaging challenges. For example, Fision, which is specialized in 3D models for virtual fitting, was acquired by Zalando to tackle the returns problem of fashion items. Big post office and parcel companies are also joining the movement. For example, Deutsche Post DHL Group announced to invest in a climate-neutral logistics solution, with a focus on e-mobility and alternative fuel for aviation.
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