Reducing emissions in five simple steps

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Last year, online shopping in Australia grew by 57%, resulting in a significant increase in the number of delivery vehicles on the roads.[1]. In fact, Australia’s transportation sector is responsible for nearly a fifth of the country’s carbon emissions. [2]. Now, new research reveals that 68% of Australians would choose lower-carbon-emitting parcel delivery methods, an emerging consumer preference that retailers and carriers will need to meet.

Ahead of Earth Day on April 22, David McLean, founder and CEO of parcel collection service Hubbed, offers timely tactics for retailers and carriers to reduce their carbon footprint. 

  1. Offer delivery methods that reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Couriers make multiple trips a day to individual addresses, which can extend parcel delivery routes and increase vehicles on the roads, and thereby emissions. Missed deliveries are often returned to depots, extending delivery routes even further. Online retailers should consider offering alternative delivery choices at checkout, such as delivery to collection points. In this way, couriers can deliver multiple parcels to one location, which are often local stores, including gas stations, convenience stores and other independent retail outlets. This can help couriers save on petrol costs and reduce congestion and carbon emissions. There is growing evidence to support this, with recent data revealing that carriers who use collection points can reduce emissions by 0.47kg C0e per kilometer. [3].
  1. Bring parcels closer to customers. With more than half of the global population currently living in cities, [4] retailers and carriers should consider leveraging ‘micro-fulfilment centers’ in metropolitan areas. This can shorten the distance between customers and their online orders, thereby speeding up delivery times and reducing emissions in the process. Retailers with bricks and mortar locations can also ship orders directly to customers from local stores, which are often closely situated to customers, and make use of existing inventory. 
  1. Educate consumers about the impact of certain delivery choices. There has been an increase in consumers selecting same-day and next-day delivery options. While they can be convenient for consumers, they also negatively affect the environment. Shorter timeframes put pressure on carriers to deliver orders quickly, forcing drivers to start delivery runs with vehicles that aren’t at full capacity and increasing their trips to depots to collect more orders. Retailers should inform customers of the impact of choosing such options during the checkout process.
  1. Partner with environmentally conscious carriers. The good news is that some carriers are already making changes to minimize their environmental impact. Retailers should seek out carriers that are already beginning to reduce their carbon emissions. Some carriers have committed to becoming carbon neutral, while others have started using electric vehicles across their fleets. In fact, electric vehicles powered from renewable sources produce just 6g of CO2  per kilometer, compared with the 184g per kilometer produced by the average new car. [5]
  1. Consider sustainable packaging options. Retailers would be wise to seek out environmentally friendly packaging options. Retailers should look to use recycled or low-carbon packing materials, satchels and boxes. Such options could help attract and retain customers, who may feel confident shopping from retailers that are actively reducing their impact on the environment.

David McLean is founder and CEO at Hubbed. 




[1] Australia Post, 2021
[2] University of Wollongong, 2020
[3] From Hubbed’s own collection network data, which analysed existing parcel volumes moving through courier delivery routes and their degree of usage of the Hubbed network.
[4] Statista, 2020
[5] PwC, 2020, pg. 5

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