Shopping trip or home delivery: which has the smaller carbon footprint?

Julia Edwards, Alan Campbell McKinnon

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    To look at how successful home delivery compares favourably with conventional shopping with regard to the effects on the environment. Design/methodology/approach - Suggests that the key to any environmental comparison is the treatment of the final link in the supply chain to the home, which typically generates more CO2 emissions than all the upstream logistical activities. Considers two issues central to the comparison of the level of carbon emissions from a conventional shopping trip with those of delivery to the home: what is the typical home delivery or shopping trip; and how do we account for complicating factors such as people combining shopping and other trips, and failed delivery, when no is at home to receive the goods. Examines three conditions that impair the efficiency of parcel carriers' operations: failed delivery, product returns, and trip chaining and browsing trips. Demonstrates how the amount of CO2 emitted by conventional and online purchases on the last link in the supply chain can vary enormously. Indicates that online retailing can make a significant contribution to the development of a future low-carbon economy. Feels there are a number of opportunities for parcel carriers to reduce the carbon footprint of home deliveries through maximizing drop densities, use of low-emissions delivery vehicles, use of parcel reception boxes at people's homes, and conveniently located collection points. Originality/value - Compares the environmental effect of home shopping and conventional shopping trips.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages5
    Specialist publicationLogistics and Transport Focus
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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