(Midwest Energy News, November 26, 2012)—As the holiday shopping season kicks into full gear, some experts predict online businesses will rake in $2 billion in sales today, which retailers have dubbed “Cyber Monday.”
That also means millions of gallons of fuel will be consumed in getting all those packages to customer’s doorsteps. The good news: there’s reasonable consensus that online shopping consumes less energy than physical retail, says Tim Smith, director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise at the Institute on the Environment.
A big reason is because those delivery trucks run much more efficient routes than we do driving to multiple stores in our own cars.
That said, Smith sees plenty of room for improvement, especially in suburban areas, as online shopping grows into what Forrester Research expects will be a $279 billion a year industry by 2015. UPS already has more than 95,000 vehicles that collectively put on 2.5 billion miles per year to keep up with the surge in online shopping.
The biggest opportunity is in the “last mile,” which accounts for up to half of a retail transaction’s carbon footprint. It’s relatively efficient to ship bulk goods by boat, train, or truck to local stores and warehouses. The largest source of emissions is in the final leg of the trip to the customer’s door. Continue reading “‘Social’ package pickups could cut online shopping’s energy use”