Physical stores emit more GHG than home delivery, less than online stores

Study by European researchers assessed three types of shopping including traditional and two types of online

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 27 February 2020
Photo: Pixabay

Are you an avid shopper? What influences your puchases? Chances are price, quality, convenience and time frame. But what about the climate cost? Should you visit the nearest mom-and-pops’ or supermart, or should you go online?

A recent study indicated ‘brick-and-mortar’ stores emit less greenhouse gases (GHG) than one type of online shopping but more than another.

Researchers from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK) and Sweden compared GHG footprints of three types of shopping:

  • Bricks and mortar, or physical stores
  • ‘Bricks and clicks’ — customers ordering online from a physical store
  • Pure-play online, where online orders are fulfilled by a parcel delivery company

The study, Comparative Greenhouse Gas Footprinting of Online versus Traditional Shopping for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods: A Stochastic Approach was recently published in an American Chemical Society publication.

It estimated total GHG emissions for the three methods used to purchase fast-moving consumer goods in the UK. Such goods, that include toiletries, cleaning supplies and packaged foods, are usually low-cost, sell quickly and are purchased frequently by consumers.

The emissions in all these methods included those from transport, warehouse storage, delivery and packaging.

GHG footprints per item purchased of bricks-and-mortar were found to be higher than those of bricks-and-Clicks in 63 per cent of the shopping events and lower than those of Pure Play in 81 per cent of shopping events, according to the study.

Researchers also suggested that those shopping by Bricks & Mortar could reduce their footprint by 40 per cent by walking or biking to the stores. Similarly, emissions for Pure Players could be cut by 26 per cent if deliverers used electric bikes instead of vans to deliver goods from parcel distribution centres to customers’ homes.

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