Shipping Goes Green: Unexpected sources of CO2 emissions in e-commerce

E-commerce and concerns about climate change have both steadily gained traction over the course of the past decade. Where those two topics come together is in conversations about shipping and delivery services.

You’d assume that e-commerce shopping would be better for the environment, as it lessens the amount of time consumers have to spend driving to and from commercial storefronts. With more consumers making purchases online, though, delivery drivers have to take to the roads more often. As a result, the carbon footprints of e-commerce platforms are larger than you’d assume.

Things grow even more complicated when you start to consider time spent in transit. Consumers are used to free two-day shipping from companies like Amazon, so much so that many smaller businesses have had to follow suit to remain competitive. While this is convenient, it also lends to the size of a platform’s carbon footprint. The faster your product of choice reaches your door, the larger the CO2 footprint of that exchange will be.

With that in mind, what are some ways that online platforms can make their shipping and delivery services more sustainable?

Partner with the SmartWay Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the SmartWay Program in 2004. This program is designed to collect data regarding the CO2 output of small businesses and transportation companies. As online sales have grown, SmartWay has instituted incentives for businesses that keep their transportation emissions low. If an e-commerce company thrives on competition and wants a bit of good pressࢀ¦
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