Environmental and sustainability awareness has become one of the most discussed topics of the decade – and the e-commerce sector is not excluded from the narrative. There has even been a slight change in perspective, as more consumers realise that last-mile delivery vehicles using petrol and single-use plastic packaging are aspects that cannot be sustained forever. With this new demand for eco-friendly business practices from customers, e-commerce businesses are pushed to reflect on their corporate social responsibility and come up with green business models.
Since the start of the pandemic, Singapore has seen 70 million new digital consumers, and e-commerce sales are expected to hit S$13.4 billion by the end of 2026. The convenience of shopping from our homes combined with the large scale lockdown acted as the perfect catalyst for retail therapy. This made e-commerce outrank gaming as one of the top online activities for consumers. But what is the environmental impact of this newfound obsession with the e-commerce industry?
Although online shopping might seemingly be more eco-friendly than brick-and-mortar shopping, according to the Sustainability Annual Trends report, e-commerce and easy customer returns are driving increased waste. As a matter of fact, millions of kilograms of waste end up in a landfill annually. Moreover, the popularity of express shipping options adds to the increase in carbon emissions.
There is no denying that as e-commerce businesses strive to deliver a more personalised customer experience, they could be damaging the environment that they’re supposed to protect. Fortunately, of all the delivery and logistics trends of 2021, sustainability and going green is one that has retained its importance since 2020. So, what can companies do to close the gaps between their actions and demands to help protect the planet?
First, it is pivotal for e-commerce brands to lean towards a green business model by looking into their packaging. Instead of individually wrapping products or using plastic and non-recyclable materials, durable and low-impact packaging should be leveraged. Secondly, businesses could relook their returns management process. Even though a flexible returns policy is crucial for the success of an online retailer, it comes at an environmental cost. ASOS, for example, has their reusable bags function as packaging for returns. Also, considering a post-sale recycling campaign like H&M is one way to navigate this issue. Launching a Garment Collecting programme, H&M allows customers to trade their unwanted clothes for a discount voucher, while the brand mitigates the environmental impact of returns shipping. The last thing is to consider climate neutral services through environmentally friendly logistics.
Also known as green logistics, environmentally friendly logistics refers to a company’s efforts to develop a greener business model and reduce emissions and pollution. Capable of bringing about better brand representation, eco-friendly logistics offers companies the opportunity to focus on increasing revenue while simultaneously helping the environment. As such, choosing sustainable shipping methods like those offered by several international carriers like DHL Express can bring about the necessary changes.
Launching the first green product and becoming the first logistics business to pledge to a zero-emissions target by 2025, DHL Express has been redefining logistics globally. Focusing on four main pillars – sustainable aviation, green last-mile delivery and line haul, carbon-neutral buildings, and green product portfolio – DHL’s innovative green logistics help clients achieve their environmental goals. Having recently partnered with Cycle and Carriage Singapore and adding six Citroën ë-Dispatch electric panel vans to our fleet, we’ve enjoyed significant reductions in both carbon emissions and operating costs. The new revolution brought about by the electric vehicles will also allow companies to hop on more environmentally-friendly operational methods even for express shipping options such as same-day delivery.
The pace of change might be slow, but taking these small steps, given the increase in online shopping, is necessary. Boasting a green logistics portfolio of clean fuel and technology, carbon offsetting, green optimisation, and carbon reports, DHL Express makes eco-friendly shipping a viable option for e-commerce businesses in Singapore and beyond.
Open an account with DHL Express to get a headstart in green logisitics.