Why e-commerce businesses should offset their shipping emissions

18 January 2024 | 15 Shares

Source: Route

It is predicted that the e-commerce industry will produce 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by the end of 2023, a statistic that should not come as a surprise. Online retail has skyrocketed since the pandemic, bringing retailers over $1 trillion in 2022 alone. According to the International Trade Administration, online e-commerce sales share is projected to increase from 16 percent of the total global retail market in 2021 to 22 percent in 2025. The logistics and transport sector, which e-commerce directly connects to, contributes just over a third of global emissions and is the largest-emitting sector in developed countries.

As both the e-commerce and logistics industries’ growth shows no sign of slowing down, decision-makers must focus on implementing sustainable practices and solutions to mitigate the environmental impact.

Carbon offset

Source: Route

Evan Walker, the founder of  Route, the industry leader in post-purchase experience and package protection with carbon neutral shipping, told TechHQ: “Making the industry more sustainable is not just a moral imperative—it’s a necessity. As e-commerce continues to thrive globally, it becomes increasingly crucial to reduce its environmental footprint. Sustainable practices not only align with our responsibility to the planet—and what consumers are starting to demand—but also contribute to the long-term viability of the e-commerce sector.”

Indeed, achieving sustainability in an industry that relies on transport is not simple. Logistics optimization, packaging waste, and energy consumption are all hurdles to environmentally friendly operations, according to Mr. Walker.

He said: “Striking a balance between sustainability and operational efficiency while considering cost-effectiveness poses a complex challenge for the industry. Overcoming these obstacles requires innovative solutions.”

These challenges are why Route developed a simple solution that allows e-commerce businesses to reduce their carbon footprint significantly. Brands can give their customers the option to offset the emissions associated with their orders with just one click at checkout.

When an order is placed, the app calculates its CO2 emissions and can make an equivalent donation to one of its certified sustainability projects. As a result of supporting a project, the emissions associated with the order are neutralized.

Mr. Walker said: “Shipping is a significant contributor to e-commerce’s environmental impact, and direct efforts to reduce emissions are paramount. By integrating sustainability practices, the industry can mitigate its carbon footprint, contribute to environmental conservation, and address the urgent need for climate action—which also aligns with what consumers want to see brands do more.”

Sustainability projects that Route supports include the Freres Biochar Project in Oregon, where ‘biochar’ (a type of charcoal produced from biomass) is generated by its lumber operations and used in agriculture and environmental applications, such as soil improvement, carbon sequestration, and sustainable farming practices. The wood waste would otherwise be disposed of—typically by burning—and pollute the environment. The equivalent of approximately 2.64 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions is removed per tonne of biochar produced.

The initiative also supports the Indus Delta Mangrove Restoration, which aims to rehabilitate and restore the mangrove forests in the Indus River Delta region of Pakistan. The mangrove ecosystems in the Delta have degraded due to human activities in the last 50 years. Replanting these important trees is expected to sequestrate the equivalent of 142 million tonnes of emissions over the next 60 years.

“By choosing projects carefully, Route guarantees that our carbon offset contributions genuinely contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and align with our commitment to sustainability,” said Mr. Walker.

For brands that sign up for Route’s Basic plan, carbon-neutral shipping is included on orders covered by Route Package Protection, where Route also refunds or replaces items that are lost, stolen, or damaged. Brands using Route’s Pro or Custom plans will have their emissions offset on all of their orders.

LoveShackFancy, Beis, and Solo Stove are among the thousands of Route’s 13,000 brand partners that offset their shipping emissions and are actively building a more sustainable e-commerce industry. As of December 2023, Carbon Neutral Shipping has neutralized the emissions from 35 million shipments and is projected to remove over 55,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Route itself is on track to becoming fully carbon neutral by 2025.

Carbon offset

Source: Route

The platform presents an unparalleled opportunity for merchants to revolutionize their post-purchase customer experiences, in addition to their sustainability commitment. Brands can retain revenue with premium package protection, reduce support tickets with immersive package tracking and with Route’s issue resolution, and boost sales with personalized product recommendations.

At its core, however, Route prioritizes its environmental  mission. Mr. Walker said: “Sustainability is a game-changer for the future of e-commerce. As consumers increasingly prioritize eco-friendly practices, the businesses that integrate sustainability will stand out.

“To put it in perspective, 87 percent of buyers will purchase a product because its company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 77 percent of companies surveyed found that sustainability leads to brand loyalty. Using Route, companies can ensure their brands are synonymous with sustainability initiatives that make an impact on the global community.

“We actively engage with partners in various industries, fostering collaboration for a greener e-commerce future. As Route grows, so will our ability to implement and expand initiatives that contribute positively to the planet.”

If you are interested in making carbon-neutral shipping part of your brand identity and contributing to a greener future for the e-commerce industry, book a Route demo today.