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News - 21 March 2011

It's greener to shop online

Consumers have been gradually coming round to the realisation that shopping online is more convenient than going to the high street. Now they are starting to see that it also gets them Brownie points from the green lobby.

While this is great news for the environment it could be disasterous for our high streets. And it's not good news for small retailers that are not yet trading online.

To coincide with the launch of Climate Week 2011 IMRG research has revealed a significant increase in consumer perception of the ‘green’ impact of online shopping.

Almost 73% of shoppers said that they consider online shopping to be more environmentally friendly than shopping in the high street, which represents a 25% increase on 2009-10.*

Making a greener choice can be impeded by price however. While 64.2% said that they would be prepared to prioritise a carbon-friendly delivery solution, nearly three quarters would not be prepared to pay a premium of more than £10 a year.

Online retail sales, currently growing around 10 times faster than conventional retail sales, are forecast to reach one-fifth of total retail sales in the UK by 2012. As a result, high-volume personal travel to shops is being replaced by consolidated van deliveries to the home. Early findings from research carried out at the Heriot-Watt University also support the environmental benefits of online shopping, having previously found in a study that the carbon dioxide emissions from a van delivery are significantly less than making a special trip to the shops to buy the same item.

Professor Alan McKinnon, Director of the Logistics Research Centre at the Heriot-Watt University, said, ‘Our research suggests that ordering goods online and having them delivered to the home can be much more carbon efficient than travelling to the shops by car or bus to buy them. Internet retailing appears, overall, to offer a significant environmental advantage, though rather than rest on their green laurels, e-tailers and their carriers could be doing more to decarbonise the distribution of online orders.’

IMRG member Kellogg’s are partnering with Climate Week. Kellogg’s environmental approach has seen them implement several successful initiatives, including reducing emissions from their UK sites by 10.9% per tonne of food since 2005, reducing paper use in their offices by 1,500,000 sheets per year since 2006 and reducing road miles by 270,000 road miles each year.

Bruce Learner, CR Manager Kellogg Europe, said, ‘At Kellogg’s we are aiming to reduce our emissions from our sites by 15-20% per tonne of food produced. We’re making good progress but we have further to go. We found that we can make progress through technological and process changes but also through behavioural change. In fact behavioural change is the element that we are most keen on; if we can change people’s behaviours then it means that environmental concerns become embedded and that must be our long term goal. Online shopping is one of those behavioural changes that people are finding more attractive. After all it can save us time as well as reducing our environmental impact and that has got to be good!’

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