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How to cut carbon emissions as e-commerce soars

Consumers love to shop online, but it is taking a toll on the environment. Customers want products delivered rapidly and that means a sharp rise in home deliveries and individual packages—and higher carbon emissions. A few sustainability leaders are developing options that reduce emissions and costs and give customers more flexibility.

According to a new report from Bain & Company, many retailers have begun to reduce the carbon footprint of their brick-and-mortar shops and distribution networks. But few have examined how e-commerce trends are transforming their carbon footprint. That’s no surprise: The proliferation of purchasing channels and delivery options makes the task far more challenging. When a consumer buys goods online, the main factors influencing the total carbon emissions—namely, last-mile delivery and packaging—are more difficult to measure.

Read the full report: Retailers’ Challenge—How To Cut Carbon Emissions As E-Commerce Soars

A few sustainability leaders have begun gathering data, developing new approaches and encouraging consumers to opt for more sustainable choices. As part of that effort, they discovered that rooting out carbon inefficiencies often is good for business, reducing costs and delighting customers with more convenient options. Bain analysis shows that doubling the average number of items purchased per e-commerce transaction and eliminating split shipments would reduce average per-item emissions by 30% and cut shipping costs more than 50%.

This infographic examines how omnichannel retailers can take action to minimize their carbon footprints.

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