Report: UK shoppers fear e-commerce environmental impact

More than half (57%) of UK online shoppers worry that the rise in online shopping is a threat for the environment, a new report has found.

However, less than 1% of UK online retailers currently offer green delivery options at checkout, the report noted.

British shoppers also don’t seem financially motivated to contribute to the planet's welfare in their online purchases, with just 38% willing to pay extra for CO2-neutral ‘green delivery’.

The latest research, commissioned by e-commerce shipping platform Sendcloud, shows UK shoppers’ demand to receive products in a timely manner, such as next-day delivery (42%) or same-day delivery (37%), still typically outweigh environmental concerns. 

72% of consumers said they believed that online stores use too much packaging material, with more than three-quarters (77%) arguing that packaging material ordered online should be fully recyclable.

Green delivery services in the UK are on the rise, with companies such as DPD investing heavily in the electrification of their delivery fleet. 

With more and more people confined to their homes in recent months, online shopping has become the safest and most convenient way to purchase not only essential items, but also ‘pick-me-ups’ in the form of fashion, furniture and food.

The report results, taken from Sendcloud’s recently commissioned e-commerce report, detail the effects of the global pandemic on the e-commerce industry, showing the significance of online shopping behaviour during Covid-19 and how these actions will affect the future of e-commerce and the environment.

Speaking on the results, Rob van den Heuvel, CEO, Sendcloud, said: “Attitudes towards a more sustainable living have changed dramatically in 2020, so it’s difficult to read that sustainable delivery and shipping is still not considered a top priority for either consumers or retailers.

“And, with the rise in online shopping due to Covid and the peak seasonal periods of Christmas and Black Friday/Cyber Monday looming, it’s hard to see this situation changing in the short-term.

“However, there are some positive signs that consumer demand is changing the way we shop and deliver in the future, with more sustainable packaging and electric delivery vans making headway in the UK and across Europe. Smarter delivery options, such as real-time delivery notifications, are also helping increase first-time deliveries and reduce the carbon footprint of shipping services.

“Such findings pose the question as to whether there needs to be a notable shift in consumer behaviour surrounding sustainable shopping or whether the retailer needs to implement ‘green delivery’ as the sole way in which shoppers can receive their goods.”

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