Study: Online shopping is not necessarily bad for the climate


According to a study by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), it is primarily the product itself and its manufacture that are decisive for the carbon footprint when shopping – and less whether it is bought online or in the store around the corner. The authority announced that up to three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions were generated during manufacture.

Accordingly, trade and transport only account for between one and ten percent of the greenhouse gases that are generated in the overall life cycle of a product – including, for example, the way customers travel by car or delivery. Whether you shop online or in a store is not so important for the climate balance, steals the UBA’s conclusion. The biggest adjustment screw, however, are durable products that are manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner. At best, you can get them in nearby shops that are easy to reach by bike or on foot.

Packaging and the “last mile” the biggest factor

According to the study, it is the additional packaging and the “last mile”, delivery to customers, that have a negative impact on the ecological balance in online retail. According to the UBA, more environmental protection is possible here: For example, if products are only sent in their original packaging or reusable packaging is used that can be returned empty. Calculated for the German market alone, this could save up to 370,000 tonnes of packaging and up to 45 percent waste per year in mail order.

A second study for the UBA came to the conclusion that ecolabels have not played a particularly important role in online retail and that there is comparatively little information on repairability or updates for digital devices. It is different with information on energy consumption, since these are mandatory. The UBA recommended that information on the manufacturer’s guarantee and parameters for the average service life of the products be made mandatory.

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