Environmentally conscious E-Commerce

Taking a cargo bike to the supermarket or having your shopping cart delivered to your home via online commerce? While online retailing is booming because of Corona, many are asking the question: Is this sustainable at all? As part of the project “The Greening of E-Commerce: New Challenges for the Environmental Policy Promotion of Sustainable Consumption”, this question is being answered on behalf of the Umweltbundesamt. With profound know-how on various aspects of sustainability as well as the implementation of carbon footprints and life cycle assessments, corsus supports the project as a project partner. The first partial report was published in December 2020.

In an interview with www.testit.de, Dr. Ulrike Eberle from corsus explains what is important when considering environmental impacts. As is so often the case with life cycle assessments, the result of the “e-commerce vs. stationary retail” comparison depends on a large number of different variables. Transport processes and shipping packaging were identified as hot spots. The personal footprint therefore depends on individual usage behavior. The trip to the supermarket by car often has a greater impact on the climate than the delivery. This is due to the fact that shipping usually involves several deliveries on one route. However, this is particularly true when the return rate is low. The research project is looking in detail at the influence of such parameters.

However, the question of what sustainable online retailing looks like does not only arise in times of Corona. A study by the industry association Bitkom e.V. shows that even before Corona, 55 million Germans used E-Commerce services – about a third of them even on a weekly basis. The industry has been growing constantly for years. The project is therefore analyzing possible scenarios for the sustainable development of E-Commerce.

For further information, here is the link to the first partial report.

Anyone who wants to know what to look out for when shopping sustainably online should read the free information sheet at www.testit.de.