Comment: Improving the environment one delivery at a time

How e-shopping is actually reducing CO2
E-commerce, Environment, Last mile


With countless studies on the impact of logistics carbon emissions and e-commerce, the general agreement is that choosing home delivery has a lesser carbon footprint than taking the traditional shopping route of visiting the mall.

Yet with e-commerce shopping activity showing no signs of slowing down and our consumer lifestyles supported by advents in technology making scheduling a delivery even easier, one wonders if this boom in delivery volumes, increased air freight and general logistics activity leads to nothing more than an expansion of more fuel-consuming trips to satisfy consumers demanding need for ‘must have it now’, therefore, more carbon emanations.

Concerns, particularly from the youth, for example, millennials, have been communicated about the lofty increment in home deliveries, some of them relatively inefficient, which diminish the net benefit of web-based retailing.

The journey from producer up to the point of delivery or to the store is practically the same. An item would typically experience a long supply chain network before it is purchased on the web or bought in a shop. 'The last mile' involves the last step in conveying products to end customers in the supply chain.

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To figure out which would have a greater effect we centre around the last mile. Obviously, there are a few factors including the number of items acquired per shopping trip, the decision of travel mode and the willingness to combine shopping with different exercises and to grouping buys into as few shopping trips or online purchases as conceivable. These are demonstrated to be basic variables. Online retailers and home delivery organizations could likewise apply measures (for example amplifying drop densities and expanding the utilization of electric vehicles) to improve the CO2 efficiency of their strategic activities and obtain a more preferred position.

How effective a delivery vehicle is and the courses pursued fluctuates generally from courier to courier. Various factors influence emissions from home deliveries. They include drop densities; the distance and nature of the delivery round; the kind of vehicle utilized; and the treatment of failed deliveries and returns. The generally acknowledged distance covered by a delivery van for each bundle is about 0.1-1mile.

For customer transportation, the normal round trip is around 12 miles. An average-sized saloon vehicle was considered for efficiency. Some studies give figures for both committed outings to the store and trip chaining scenarios which can be described as a household's inclination to combine various activities during a single trip.

Generally, the logistics of shipping are quite best advanced and the carbon footprint of 'e-tailing' is fundamentally lower than driving to the store yourself. A delivery truck can make 120 drops on a 50-mile course, while a normal trip to the store is around 12 miles, you may just get 1-2 things. The routes followed by delivery trucks are substantially more effective despite the fact that they don't get as great of gas mileage as the normal vehicle.

It might be less polluting to drive to the store in the event that you are utilizing an exceptionally efficient vehicle that runs on renewable energy, for example, solar. A client's outing may likewise have a smaller carbon footprint if the store is en route to someplace they are now going or if picking various things at once (more than 10).

In summary, research recommends that, as far as carbon emissions, shopping online has a much smaller effect. Studies go somewhere in the range of 18-87%, however, it's essential to take note of the wide assortment of factors here and consider one’s specific circumstance. The difference between driving to the store and requesting on the web is mostly determined by your vehicle.

Both customers and providers should be made increasingly mindful of the ecological ramifications of their respective purchasing behaviour and distribution strategies with the goal that potential CO2 savings can be made.

It is recognized that individuals seem to view shopping as a social, recreational or even indulgent activity to be enjoyed in a physical store. Given increasing worry for climate change, in any case, it is important that they are made mindful of the CO2 consequences of their selected shopping behaviour. With a bit of planning and thought on both the part of buyers and carriers/retailers, emissions related to the transport component of any shopping activity could be limited through a couple of basic actions.

Transporters should aim to maximize drop densities (something that is probably going to happen in any case as an outcome of the development of online retail sales), avoid dedicated collection trips when picking-up returned items and where conceivable utilize low-emission vehicles, for example, electric vehicles. The use of reception boxes at individuals' homes and separate collection points eliminates failed deliveries, the consolidation of orders to a specific location in a single delivery would cut vehicle kilometres and more extensive adoption of variable delivery pricing would advance off-peak/out-of-hours deliveries, enabling delivery vans to run a greater amount of their mileage at fuel-efficient speeds.

Conventional shoppers in the interim ought to ensure that when they go out shopping wherever possible they should combine their shopping trip with other activities and therefore abstain from making a committed journey to purchase a single item. The relative carbon intensity of the various types of retail distribution relies upon their specific conditions. Neither has a flat out environmental position. A few forms of traditional shopping behaviour emit less CO2 than other home delivery operations. On average, however, in the case of non-food purchases, the home delivery operation is probably going to produce less CO2. This environmental advantage can be strengthened in various ways if online retailers and their carriers alter some of their current operating practices.

About the authors

Darryl Judd, COO, Logistics Executive Group (

In 2015, Darryl was named as one the “Top 50 influential individuals in Asia' Supply Chain, Manufacturing & Logistics industry” in the prestigious SCM Thought Leader publication by SCM World, recognising him as expert in the linkage of business strategy and supply chain best practices to human capital management.  Darryl brings 28 years of executive leadership and consulting experience and is regular contributor on thought leadership across numerous industry publications and is a frequent speaker at international conferences and events on business leadership, strategy & people alignment and talent management. He was instrumental in the creation of Logistics Academy and presently holds an advisory board appointment with industry group LSCMS. In 2014, he was appointed as one of five global experts to IATA’s Global Innovation Award selection board and has held senior executive positions within the airline, air cargo and aircraft leasing industry.

Lynda Bomett, business intelligence specialist, Logistics Executive Group (

Lynda Bomett is a Business Intelligence Specialist at Logistics Executive Group in the Middle East. She has a degree in Environmental Studies from Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya . She specializes in market research in the Logistics and Supply Chain sector. Her past research spans topics including E-commerce, Food Security and Supply Chain Management. She can be reached at

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