EU Commission, DG GROW
Online commerce has grown strongly over the past ten years. Stationary trade has reacted to this trend and combined both distribution channels in an omnichannel approach. The boom in e-commerce has also had an impact on the transport system and thus on the environmental impact of the sector. The study aims to compare the environmental impacts of online commerce with those of stationary trade.
The EU Commission entrusted a consortium consisting of Prognos, Sphera, and KE-Consult, with the implementation of the study.
In a first step, we examined the transport chain of online and stationary retail commerce in order to identify the individual stages in the two supply chains. In the process, the transport routes from the manufacturer to the customers were considered. In a second step, we developed a modelling tool to calculate the environmental impact (CO2 emissions and air pollution) of each transport stage. In the third step, this modelling tool was finally used to calculate the environmental impact using real-life case studies.
Two transport stages have a strong influence on CO2 emissions and air pollution: Global long-distance transport to the first parcel hub in the EU and transport from the parcel centre to customers (the “last mile”).
There are a number of factors that affect emissions during transport. Amongst other things the study determined:
In addition, five measures were identified that can reduce the environmental impact of the retail transport chain:
To the executive summary of the study (EU Commission, PDF in English)
Project team: Sven Altenburg, Hans-Paul Kienzler
Last update: 17.11.2022
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Prognos is one of the oldest economic research centres in Europe. Founded at the University of Basel, Prognos experts have been conducting research for a wide range of clients from the public and private sectors since 1959 – politically independent, scientifically sound.