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Sustainable online shopping and delivery: just in time for peak season.

Online shopping often gets a bad reputation. But is it really that bad for the environment and how guilty do we need to feel, if at all?

Insights Team Oct 12, 2022 4 minutes
Buy Now Pay Later Riverty

Ordering from the comfort of your own home and getting the parcel delivered in your doorstep is regarded as unsustainable and bad for the environment. However, new calculations show the contrary: home delivery has 2.3 times lower emissions compared to high street-shopping sprees.  

Although it sounds unlikely, shopping online with a home delivery is the most environmentally friendly option of making purchases. Only 15% of shoppers thinks this is the greenest option.

Internet shopping and home delivery cuts CO2 emission in half.

Of course, this needs some explanation. The new calculations look beyond the shipping air, parcel handling, lory fuel and electricity use of the warehouses. This time the energy consumption of warehouses, shops and other commercial buildings are also considered, as well as the physical shops and the number of customer trips to the storefront. All these extra factors have a larger effect on the environment than the impact of storage, transport, and delivery in online retail. In fact, especially in the Netherlands, the very last few kilometers the parcel travels before it reaches the online shopper, are the greenest. the two main reasons are relatively short distances from warehouse to the first and last front door on the courier’s journey, and the percentage of delivery trucks in the Netherlands that run on electricity is high and still going up daily.

Still, 6 out of 10 shoppers believe online shopping is harmful for the environment.

On average 62% of European consumers say online shopping is a 'major environmental waste'. However, that does not stop them from making purchases in webshops, as ecommerce is still growing, sees no signs of stopping and will only be boosted in the upcoming months by all the holiday sales events in the Peak season.

Consumer measures to shop more mindful: preventing returns, greener shipping and opting for a pickup location

About a quarter of consumers find it important to avoid returns as much as possible and do as much as they can to make the right purchases. They either do so by doing their research, checking reviews, or filling out a sizing tool for fashion items.

Another trend is the willingness to pay for more climate-friendly shipping (59% in 2021 vs 66% in 2022). Consumers say they are also green shipping solutions if they are given the choice, such as a parcel pick up point in the neighborhood. Especially if the pickup point is reachable by foot or bicycle, instead of going by car. Whenever a more sustainable option is presented with a green leaf as a sustainability icon, shoppers are four times more prone to pick that alternative.

Webshops can contribute to sustainability, too

Online retailers and sellers can do a lot to help the environment and do greener business. Shipping with the best suitable packaging is a good place to start. Shipping air is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in shipments. Shipping small items in big boxes only fills up the delivery trucks, which will require more trucks to go out. Also, the use of reusable packaging useful. Both for shipping, for protecting-wrapper for the items during shipment and for returns, if needed.



Riverty encourages webshops to do sustainable business and aim for as much CO2 reduction as possible. Shopping online with home delivery is a better option when it comes to CO2 emissions than going out with your own car to a physical store. 

Watch this space for more shopper insights and to learn more about ecommerce.