The Environmental Impact of E-Commerce 2020 code:1466

The Environmental Impact of E-Commerce 2020
OVERVIEW
TABLE OF CONTENTS
COMPANIES MENTIONED
Countries Covered: China, Germany, Mexico, UK, USA
Pages: 81
Publication Date: 21/01/2020
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Questions Covered in the report:
  • Which is more environmentally friendly, online or traditional shopping?
  • What share of online shoppers worldwide returned their online purchase in 2019 and what product categories have the highest returns rates?
  • What was the estimated volume of parcels delivered in China as a result of Singles Day in 2019 and what is their projection for the volume of packaging by 2025?
  • Under which circumstances are online shoppers willing to change their behavior to have a lower environmental impact?
  • Which market trends are important in the development of measures to lower the environmental impact of E-Commerce worldwide?

Key findings:

New yStats.com report discusses the environmental impact of E-Commerce

Environmental Impact of E-Commerce depends on multiple factors

According to research cited in the yStats report, online shopping can have a lower carbon footprint as compared to traditional shopping due to more efficient logistics. However, it is not an easy task to evaluate the environmental impact of E-Commerce as it is connected with multiple factors, including individual shopper’s behavior, such as whether they choose standard or express delivery, the available transportation infrastructure at a particular geographical location, the type of vehicles used for individual transportation, the logistics networks, journey planning and type of fleet used for delivery of online shopping.

E-commerce’s high returns rates and special sales like Black Friday pose an environmental burden

One of the most criticized aspects of E-Commerce is its high returns rate, in particularly in the fashion and accessories category. In general, more than one-third of online shoppers worldwide returned an item in the three months prior to a survey in January 2019, as cited in this report. High returns rates not only cause harmful emissions due to double shipping, but returned articles are not always eligible for resale and may be disposed of. Also, special sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, and Chinese Singles Day significantly contribute to the environmental problems caused by shopping online. These are connected with packaging used for shipping, delivery and replacement of still good and usable products with new ones, just because of a reduced price.

Online shoppers want to be informed and care about the environmental impact of E-Commerce

In general, the quicker the delivery, the higher the harmful emissions related to an online purchase. Yet many online shoppers still opt and are willing to pay for same- or next-day delivery, especially in Western European countries. However, multiple sources show that informing online shoppers about the environmental impact of express delivery can make them opt for slower shipping options. A recent survey of cross-border online shoppers showed that close to half of them would like to have carbon-neutral delivery and sustainable packaging. Also, nearly half of global adult travelers would be encouraged to travel sustainably if offered eco-friendly filters on online booking sites.

Companies offer solutions to lower the environmental impact of E-Commerce.

E-Commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba.com, JD.com, Zalando and ASOS are implementing measures to lower their environmental impact. These include investment in electric vehicles, organizing pick-up and recycling of used packaging materials, offering clustered delivery of multiple items on a chosen day, 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 and packaging challenges. For example, Optoro’s software applies machine learning and predictive analytics for returns optimization. Big post office and parcel companies like DPDHL or CTT have invested in electric mobility, teaming up with other specialized companies to create electric vehicles adequate to their needs.

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1. Management Summary

2. Overview & Introduction

  • Global: E-Commerce’s Impact on the Environment Overview, January 2020
  • Global: Retail E-Commerce Sales, in USD trillion and in Share of Total Retail Sales, in %, 2017-2023f
  • Global: Share of Consumers Receiving Deliveries Once a Week or More From Grocery Retailers, in % of Consumers, by France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA, 2018 & 2021f
  • Global: Parcel Volumes, in billions, 2014-2018 & 2025f
  • Global: Top 5 Countries Purchased From in the Latest Cross-Border Online Purchase, in % of Cross-Border Online Shoppers, 2017 & 2018
  • Global: Breakdown of Time Needed for Cross-Border Delivery, in % of Cross-Border Online Shoppers, October 2018
  • USA: Goods Flown by Amazon Air, in thousand tons, July 2018, December 2018 & July 2019
  • Global: Share of Cross-Border E-Commerce B2C Shipments Transported by Air, in %, 2019
  • Global: Share of CO2 Emissions From Freight Operations in Commercial Aviation, in %, 2018
  • Global: Carbon Footprint of Shoppers, by In-Store Only, In-Store & Online & Fast-Shipping, Online Only, Online-Only & Fast-Shipping in kg CO2e, June 2019

3. Product Returns and the Effect on the Environment

  • Global: Share of Online Shoppers Who Returned an Item in the Three Months Prior to the Study, in %, January 2019
  • USA: Volume of Packages Returned to Online Shops, in Millions per Day, January 2019, December 2019 & January, 2nd 2020f
  • North America: Share of Returns, by Traditional Retail and E-Commerce, in % of Sales, December 2018
  • Germany: Share of E-Commerce Returns, by Ordered Articles and Delivered Parcels, in %, 2018
  • Germany: Share of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Caused by E-Commerce Returns in Country’s Total  Greenhouse Gas Emissions, in %, 2018
  • UK: Share of Online Shoppers Ordering Articles They Are Willing to Return, by Total Surveyed and 25-34 Year-Olds, in %, April 2019
  • Global: Breakdown of Reasons for Returning an Item, in % Surveyed Online Shoppers, January 2019
  • Europe: Share of Returns of E-Commerce Articles, by Category, in % of Returned Articles, March 2019
  • Europe: Share of E-Commerce Returned Articles Eligible for Repeated Sale as an A-Article, in %, March 2019
  • Germany: Share of E-Commerce Returned Articles that Were Disposed of, in %, December 2018
  • Europe: Share of E-Commerce Merchants For Whom Measures to Avoid Returns Have Special Priority, in %, March 2019
  • UK: Share of Online Shoppers Concerned About Environmental Impact of Over-Ordering and Returning Goods, and Who Reduced the Amount Ordered or Returned, in %, April 2019
  • Global: Share of Returns, by Iceland, India, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam and Global Average, in % of Cross-Border Online Shoppers, October 2018

4. Special Sales and Their Environmental Impact

  • USA: Retail E-Commerce Sales on Black Friday, in USD billion and in Year-on-Year Change, in %, 2017-2019e
  • Global: Gross Merchandise Sales During Amazon Prime Day, in USD billion, 2015-2019e
  • China: Number of Parcels Delivered as a Result of Singles Day, in millions, 2017-2019e
  • China: Volume of Packaging from Deliveries During Singles Day, in million tons, 2018 & 2025f
  • UK: Share of Consumers Who Consider or Try to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Purchases, in % of Respondents, November 2019
  • UK: Share of Consumers Whose Black Friday and Cyber Monday Purchase Will Be Planned or Impulse-Driven, in % of Respondents, November 2019
  • UK: Share of Consumers Using Their Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 Purchased Item, in % of Respondents, November 2019

5. Delivery and Online Shoppers’ Attitudes Towards Environmentally-Friendly Options

  • Europe: Share of Consumers Who Are Willing to Pay For Same-Day Delivery, in %, and For Next-Day Delivery, in %, by France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK, September 2018
  • Global: Breakdown of Actions Taken to Qualify for Free Shipping, in % Surveyed Online Shoppers, January 2019
  • Global: Breakdown of Reasons for Reducing Delivery Speed, in % Surveyed Online Shoppers, January 2019
  • UK: Share of Online Shoppers More Likely to Opt for Alternatives to Home Delivery If Informed of the Respective Emissions for Each Delivery Option, in %, March 2019
  • UK: Share of Online Shoppers Who Used Click-and-Collect in the Last 3 Months, and in the Last 6 Months, in %, March 2019
  • Mexico: Share of Online Shoppers Opting for Longer Delivery Times to Save Trees, in % of Respondents, April 2019
  • North America: Share of Online Shoppers Who Care a Great Deal about the Environmental Impact of Their Deliveries, in %, and Who are Conscious of The Issue, in %, July 2018
  • North America: Share of Online Shoppers Who Believe a Consolidated Delivery Service Option Has a Positive Environmental Impact, in %, and Who Are Willing to Opt for Such a Service, in %, July 2018
  • UK: Share of Online Shoppers Who Admit That Home Delivery Option Is a Default Habit, in %, March 2019
  • UK: Attitudes Towards Environmental Impact of Online Delivery, in % Online Shoppers, and in % of 18-24 Year-Old Online Shoppers, March 2019
  • United States: Share of Etsy’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Shipping in the Company’s Total Emissions, in %, February 2019
  • Global: Breakdown of Attitudes Towards Carbon-Neutral Delivery, in % of Cross-Border Online Shoppers, October 2018

6. Packaging and Consumers’ Approach to Sustainable Options

  • Global: Share of Empty Space in E-Commerce Parcel, in % of Volume, December 2019
  • China: Share of Cardboard Boxes Used in Express Delivery Packaging That Were Reused, in %, September 2019
  • Global: Consumers’ Attitudes Towards Packaging, in %, April 2019
  • Europe: Share of Consumers Who Buy Items With Less Packaging, by France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, the UK, and European Average, in %, September 2018
  • Europe: Share of Consumers Who Look For Products With Environmentally Friendly Packaging, by Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, and European Average, in %, September 2018
  • Global: Share of Consumers Who Are Willing to Pay a Premium for Sustainable Packaging When Buying Food Items, by China, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, and European Average, in %, September 2018
  • Germany: Share of Online Shoppers Opting for Shipping in Reusable Packaging, in % of memo AG Online Shoppers, July 2019
  • Global: Breakdown of Attitudes Towards Sustainable Packaging, in % of Cross-Border Online Shoppers, October 2018

7. Sustainable Payments

  • Global: Payment and Sustainability – Players Overview, January 2020

8. Sustainable Travel

  • Global: Online Booking Sites Offering a Sustainable or Eco-Friendly Filter Option Seen as an Incentive to Travel More Sustainably, in % of Adult Respondents, March 2019
  • Global: Attitudes Towards Sustainable Travel, in % of Adult Respondents, February-March 2019

9. Players and Companies Offering Solutions to Make E-Commerce Greener

  • Global: E-Commerce and Sustainability – Players and Current Developments, January 2020
  • Global: Examples of Companies with Sustainable Solutions for E-Commerce, including Reverse Logistics, December 2019
  • Global: Examples of Companies with Sustainable Solutions for E-Commerce, incl. Delivery and Packaging, December 2019
Read More
  • ASOS PLC
  • Alibaba Group Holding
  • Amazon.com Inc
  • American Express Co
  • Cainiao Network Technology Co Ltd
  • Deutsche Post DHL Group
  • Doconomy
  • Etsy Inc.
  • Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd.
  • JD.com Inc
  • MasterCard Inc.
  • Memo AG
  • Optoro Inc
  • SIBS LLC
  • Target
  • Visa Inc.
  • Zalando SE
Read More

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