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Carbon Auditing the 'Last Mile': Modelling the Environmental Impacts of Conventional and Online Shopping
This report discusses whether it is better, in terms of CO2 emissions, to travel to the shops to buy non-food items or to order them online and have them delivered to your home. It focuses attention in the last link in the retail supply chain, commonly referred to as the ‘last mile’. Several last mile scenarios are constructed for the purchase of a book, using this product as typical of small, non‐food consumer items. The study was conducted the UK and the analysis based on official government statistics, operational data from a large logistics service provider, face‐to‐face and telephone interviews with company managers and relevant literature. Overall, the research suggests that, while neither home delivery nor conventional shopping has an absolute CO2 advantage, on average, the home delivery operation is likely to generate less CO2 than the typical shopping trip, even if made by bus.
For several years, the Amazon website had a link to this report on a page entitled ‘Amazon’s Innovations for our Planet’. The study was cited as evidence that ‘The efficiencies of online shopping result in a greener shopping experience than traditional retailing’.
A revised and extended version of this report was published as a paper in the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management:
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