Pureplay online purchase produce twice as much greenhouse gas as going in-store yourself

Sustainable Tech

Bricks-and-clicks retailers provide the most environmentally friendly way to shop, ahead of both purchasing from pureplay online retailers and going in-store yourself.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were found to be lowest when shopping for fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) by retailers that have both physical and online stores, according to a new report published in Environmental Science and Technology this week.

The report identified three key ways of shopping: traveling to and purchasing in-store yourself, buying from pureplay retailers like Amazon with no physical shopfront, and ordering online from retailers which will fulfil items from their physical stores.

It measured the GHGs associated with transport, warehouse storage, delivery and packaging with any items which do not need to be refrigerated across all three channels and their specific supply chains.

In its simulations it found that pureplay retailers had the highest GHG footprints 81 per cent of the time, while traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping had higher footprints 63 per cent of the time.

READ MORE: Shorter delivery times leading to massive increase in greenhouse emissions

Pureplay retailers in the UK had total median GHG emissions per item of 0.18kg CO2, nearly double the median total emissions from bricks-and-mortar purchases at 0.10kg Co2 per item.

Furthermore, this was close to three times the median emissions of bricks-and-clicks purchases at 0.7kg CO2 per item.

“Pure players could reduce their last-mile footprints by switching from delivery vans to electric cargo bikes and also reducing the failed delivery rate,” the study read.

“Another option for pure players to reduce their GHG footprints is to locate warehouses closer to their customers in order to decrease the stem mileage.

“Pure players offer a huge range of products to consumers. However, these products are often not stored in one place, and therefore multiple deliveries might be required to fulfill an order when several products are purchased.

“Therefore, consumers could reduce the GHG footprints of their online purchase by purchasing multiple products from the same supplier and by choosing to bundle items rather than send each item as soon as it is ready.”

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