It is undeniable that e-commerce is becoming more and more popular. But what impact does it have on the planet?
A study by Generation IM found that the carbon footprint of e-commerce is 17% lower
than traditional stores. On the surface, this looks promising. However, it also appears to encourage wasteful consumption, so the environmental benefits could be negated if e-commerce businesses don’t take the right steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Reducing the carbon footprint of e-commerce businesses is going to be very important moving forward
We can keep hearing new stories about how e-commerce is the main reason so many startups have successfully found their way into the market. But that’s only part of the story of e-commerce’s influence on the economy.
Big companies and retail chains have had the same opportunities to increase sales and get better revenue, so it hasn’t necessarily made things easier for smaller companies. According to early analyzes and reports, online platforms helped brands and businesses survive the early 2020s, which was one of the toughest times in recent history.
To be completely fair, e-commerce deserves plaudits for showcasing new economic trends and for being an innovative, technology-driven and adaptive branch of commerce. From today’s point of view, this could be our solution to inflation and stagnation. The recently emerged MACH architecture and other new concepts following the breakthrough of headless commerce are all clear signs that e-commerce has plenty of room for further upgrades and developments.
All the positive factors aside, we as a society must also find ways to protect the environment from its rapid development and our new shopping habits.
Convenience and stability
According to experts, aggressive technological expansion has allowed e-commerce to flourish. However, with social distancing and lockdowns, this process was dramatically accelerated to the point where the vast majority of trading was done exclusively online. You don’t have to worry about traffic, fuel or labor hours. Moreover, customers can take all the time in the world to make a choice. So, if a business has a carefully planned online presence, a good website interface, an adjusted price/performance ratio, competent customer service and sound marketing advice, there is a very good chance that the business can achieve its consumers and grow. forward.
With so many employees comfortable working from home, e-commerce has no problem adapting to this situation or creating new jobs and employment opportunities. Even though it is irrational to expect any kind of economic stability, especially in 2022, there is enough evidence that so far e-commerce has contributed to the sense of hope and security within this model. commercial.
What about durability?
Speaking of the future, sustainability is another issue we need to think about. Unfortunately, the e-commerce supply chain is the source of several negative environmental aspects. Carbon emissions from manufacturing, shipping and packaging waste are increasing rapidly and according to recent forecasts will increase by 30% in the next 8 years. Most retailers use paper, plastic and cardboard, but also textiles and other materials such as foams for their packaging. The carbon footprint of electronic devices and internet use has reached almost 4% of total carbon emissions and is expected to reach 8% by 2025.
With so much pollution and growing waste accumulating in a short time, concern for the environmental impact of e-commerce is realistic and demands immediate global action.
How to make e-commerce more sustainable
The number of people who want to buy from environmentally friendly companies is constantly increasing. Over 70% of shoppers in North America, Europe and Asia are aware of their online shopping habits and choices. Although implementation may be financially difficult for some, these 5 ways can help e-commerce businesses become greener.
Most of the products shipped are packed in plastic bags and bubble wrap. Plastic is one of the cheapest materials today, so it is widely and globally used for this purpose. Additionally, plastic packaging accounts for more than 40% of all plastic waste globally. And, unfortunately, only 8.7% of this waste is recycled.
The best way for companies to reduce their stake in these numbers is to re-evaluate the packaging they use. Today, there are more sustainable packaging solutions on the market than ever before. These new options are recyclable, reusable and compostable. Additionally, online retailers can switch to biodegradable labels, tapes and envelopes. Some companies have adjusted their policy and offered a round-trip shipping option with the possibility of collecting packaging waste at the customer’s address. Adjusting the packaging to the size of the products may cost more, but this decision will make consumers less irritated and more eager to choose the same company again.
Eco-friendly e-commerce brands need good contingency plans in place. One of the most important is making sure the right shipping strategies are in place.
The contribution of last mile and fast deliveries to global carbon emissions has unfortunately increased significantly over the past two and a half years. One way to help with efforts to reduce it is to choose a carrier with a green option like electric vehicles or bicycles. For merchants who have their delivery service, organizing a delivery point for customers in a certain area could also be a solution. Another way is to use discounts to reward customers who choose shipping options with longer delivery times instead of fast delivery.
Although the return policy can be a very beneficial strategy for attracting customers, it can also be harmful to the environment. With over 50% returns, return shipping logistics have become a nightmare with serious greenhouse gas consequences. Fortunately, companies can use several options to reduce the negative impact.
Repackaging or carefully evaluating return products for resale at a lower price. Or, the repair option can be offered to customers who do not insist on replacing the defective product received with a new one.
The reason to consider this option is an average of 1.8g of carbon released per webpage viewed. Unnecessary features such as animations or a large number of photos can actually make the website less cluttered. Moreover, it is also a tactic to shorten loading time and improve SEO.
Certified Green Suppliers
Finding a sustainable producer is still not an easy task, but it is worth trying. The good news is that more and more suppliers are looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly, so they can certify their production process. These certifications are proof that factories can have energy efficient and healthier production lines and facilities.