21. June 2021 | Service tips

Click and buy – but what about climate targets? Online shopping can also be sustainable and is above all a question of how the goods are shipped

The electric table grill for the summer is just a click away, conveniently delivered to your home, free of shipping costs and - thanks to a voucher code - it's also inexpensive. Nowadays more and more consumers are shopping online. Turnover in online retailing increased by about 23 percent last year, and the shop closures caused by the pandemic have further fuelled this development. The fashion industry occupies the top spot in online retailing, accounting for a quarter of sales, followed by electrical goods (24.2 percent) and leisure/hobbies (15.1 percent). Many customers are already aware that, for example, cheap clothing from overseas is not particularly environmentally friendly. Sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in many areas of life, but so far the "what" has been more decisive for many consumers than the "how".

Meeting climate targets

A quarter of all the greenhouse gas emissions in Europe can be traced back to the transport sector - and the trend is rising. In order to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, a 90 percent reduction in emissions in this sector has to be achieved. So it is worth taking a close look at the possible shipping partners before making any online purchase. DPDGroup is aware of the serious CO2 impact of transport business operations and therefore offers carbon-neutral shipping at no extra charge. By 2025 the emission value per parcel is to be reduced to 30 per cent. To achieve this climate target DPD relies on environmentally friendly electric vehicles and cargo bikes, which not only improve air quality but also reduce the number of transport vehicles in city traffic. In addition, DPD is investing in numerous city depots to shorten current delivery routes.

Following the footprint: CO2 tracking

To give customers an insight into their own "emissions record", DPD offers a CO2 report that allows them to track the carbon footprint of individual parcel routes. This creates a visible footprint and accordingly an awareness of their own consumption. By means of an internal reporting tool DPD also regularly checks its own emission values, and then offsets them voluntarily. A reduction in CO2 and therefore an improved quality of life is promoted by an increased focus on renewable energy sources and recycling projects, such as the promotion of wind turbines in India.

In other words, people don't have to feel bad about buying products online. Surveys have shown that German consumers have to travel an average of 15 kilometres to go shopping - and are happy to use their cars to do so. Many online retailers and mail-order companies have reduced their emissions by operating their city locations with renewable energy or by using digital services to reduce their bricks-and-mortar sales areas. The important thing in future will be to make carefully considered purchases and to be able to justify the necessity of a new purchase. Excessive consumption and the constant demand for an oversaturated supply will not reduce production. With the following tips you can browse the web sustainably and conscientiously in the future:

  • Order from sustainable online shops, which largely or completely avoid plastic packaging and offer fairly produced items.

  • Avoid express deliveries and use environmentally friendly shipping options: many delivery services, such as DPD or DHL, are CO2-neutral without charging extra for this.

  • It pays to place collective orders: try to order all the products you need from a single shop. Before finalising your purchase, make sure that all items are delivered in one parcel.

  • Avoid returns! Double CO2 emissions also have twice the impact on the climate. Consider in advance whether the item is really needed. For a quality check, it is worthwhile reading reviews before buying something and asking possible questions about a product from retailers.

  • Have your parcel delivered directly to a parcel station or a parcel shop. This will help you avoid unsuccessful delivery attempts.

  • When you shop online, look for shipping information about the country of origin. It is not uncommon for products to come from the Far East or overseas, and accordingly have unnecessarily long delivery routes behind them.

  • As a general rule, you should not order online what you can get locally.

Digital purchasing processes offer customers a diverse range of products and convenient access. No one should or has to do without this. Retailers and customers need to continue to work together on sustainable solutions that make online trade as carbon-neutral as possible. E-shoppers can start with the simple awareness of filling their shopping basket conscientiously and relying on a sustainable transport company when making their next purchase.