Online shopping could increase transport emissions



The rising trend of online shopping could harm the environment as more lorries take to the road to meet increased demand, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has warned.

The organisation said changing shopping habits were creating a “major shift” in transport patterns. As a result, we need to consider how this will impact on our transport infrastructure.

A survey conducted on behalf of the IET found that more than three-quarters of British adults are online shoppers. Of these, 63% had bought at least three gifts online for Christmas. Whilst the trend is potentially reducing car travel to local shops, it is likely to lead to more delivery vehicles travelling and result in emissions increasing.

A TSB poll published before Christmas also found that many shoppers were opting to buy from small local firms rather than larger retailers. Shopping locally was generally found to be more popular than shopping at high street chains, purchasing online and travelling to shopping centres outside the community.

Prof Phil Blythe, from the IET, said, “With online shopping on the increase, traffic congestion and emissions will only rise. We are calling on retailers to consider all of this and get smarter about the impact of deliveries on our roads.

“We would encourage the use of smart logistics to minimise footprint or re-use a transport mode for these deliveries (such as a ‘post bus’) or using unused capacity in other delivery fleets.”

Retailers have generally reported disappointing sales figures over the festive period. Ethical retailer John Lewis reported a 6.9% increase in like-for-like sales, driven by a 23% increase in online sales and the growing popularity of its click-and-collect service.

Further reading:

Ethical retailers John Lewis reports strong Christmas sales

Tesco and Coca-cola initiative raises recycling awareness

TSB poll: Christmas shoppers opting for local firms over large retailers

How Britain’s biggest supermarkets fare on sustainability

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013


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