How Green is Your Parcel? The Impact of Home Delivery on Climate Change Jordan Dennison 17 March 2023

How Green is Your Parcel? The Impact of Home Delivery on Climate Change

An artificial image of the Earth within a trolley

There’s no doubt that online shopping and home deliveries have been a lifesaver since the global pandemic began, but it’s also had harmful effects on our planet. Unfortunately, the carbon cost of home delivery casts a dark, smoggy cloud over the convenience of online shopping. As the eCommerce industry continues to grow, every courier company has a responsibility to tackle its carbon emissions and work towards greener operations.

How Green Is Your Parcel?

Transport is responsible for a significant chunk of the UK’s carbon emissions, and courier companies play a big role in driving this. Despite actions being taken to “Go Green”, most delivery trucks and vans in the UK are currently still powered by fossil fuels. Consequentially, the fulfilment process of sending goods from the warehouse to consumers involves emitting large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Every online order contributes towards the UK’s daily carbon emissions, and due to the pandemic, delivery emissions have rapidly increased since 2019.

Faster delivery options such as same-day delivery, while convenient, involve small vehicles going around the country delivering small quantities of orders, increasing carbon emissions. While free delivery may be offered to the consumer, the cost of delivering their goods is absorbed by the seller and the environment. The environmental impact of the delivery-intensive shopping culture that has emerged must be tackled quickly to help the UK achieve net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

EC Group data capture process
Delivery Emissions and Brand Loyalty

Delivery company, Yodel recently found that younger consumers are more conscious about their impact on the environment while shopping online. Yodel’s report states that “More than half (53%) of 18-34s said they’d be more inclined to purchase if the delivery company focused on reducing its emissions.” The study also found that 42% of online shoppers surveyed would happily wait longer for their order if it resulted in a reduction in carbon emissions.

The results from Yodel’s study highlight that delivery emissions have the potential to drive brand loyalty amongst online shoppers. Partnering with a sustainable courier company may actually increase customer retention and generate more repeat orders. Moreover, sustainable delivery options may be provided with a bit more leeway from customers regarding delivery times, leading to fewer negative reviews. 

Royal Mail Is The Most Sustainable Courier

According to research, Royal Mail is the most carbon conscious delivery company in the UK. It has the largest ‘fleet on the street’ network, with 90,000 postal workers on foot. The company invested in 295 electric vehicles and recently announced that 29 gas-powered trucks would be added to its fleet to reduce its carbon footprint. Not stopping there, Royal Mail has fitted over 11,000 vans with telemetry technology designed to promote fuel-efficient driving styles. Monitoring the van’s acceleration, speed, turning and braking patterns, the technology provides feedback to the driver to help them reduce their driving emissions.

How Are Other Courier Companies Adapting?

Much like Royal Mail, other courier companies are also investing in a greener future. Each year, DPD has invested in one thousand diesel Mercedes Sprinter vans to expand its fleet, but the company plans in buying electric vehicles moving forward. DPD claims that it has already achieved 100% carbon neutral parcel delivery across Europe. The courier company analyses its carbon footprint per parcel and takes measures to reduce it while funding clean energy projects around the world to offset the remaining emissions.

To reduce its emissions, Yodel has implemented similar technology to Royal Mail to calculate the most fuel efficient delivery routes and promote environmentally friendly driving. Elsewhere in the market, Amazon has set ambitious goals regarding transforming its operations. The company intends to operate using 100% renewable energy and have 50% of its shipments emitting net zero carbon by 2030. The eCommerce giant has pledged to purchase 100,000 electric delivery vehicles and invest $100 million in climate mitigation projects.

Here’s a list of ways courier companies are reducing carbon emissions:

  • Technology which calculates the most efficient route and analyses driving styles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Gas-powered vehicles
  • Replace delivery vehicles with drones
  • Parcel lockers
  • Energy-efficient distribution centres and offices
  • Local deliveries by bike or foot
  • Filling delivery vehicles to maximum capacity
EC Group distribution of packages for custom fulfilment order

Emerging technology is set to revolutionise fulfilment warehouses and help eCommerce businesses meet the rapidly rising volume of online orders. Over the coming years, these technological innovations will become increasingly efficient and more commonly used.

Technology has allowed eCommerce businesses to:

  • Improve warehouse operational efficiency
  • Make life easier for warehouse operatives
  • Reduce picking times
  • Increase picking accuracy
  • Reduce costs
  • Provide a better service to customers

If you’d like support in any aspect of your eCommerce fulfilment, please contact us.