Carbon footprint of online shopping nears emission of shipping packages


If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that e-commerce will never go away. Browsing several online stores to find the right price for that bread machine from the comfort of one's own couch is unbeatable. 

But online shopping comes with a hefty price, it adds to our world's carbon footprint. The impact on our environment for every online sale, nears the carbon footprint of shipping said sales.  

Difference of 29%

We tend to think of emission when a courier delivers a package to your frontdoor, but did you know that even browsing online shops causes emissions? There are many instances where the emission from an online sale exceeds the C02 cost of the delivery.

On average, an online sale emits 218.4 gram C02. This doesn’t stray far from 309 gram of C02, the average emission for delivering a package, and is a difference of only 29%.

In this article, we dive deeper in how much emission measured in C02 an online purchase generates, and how this relates to the delivery of a purchase.

600 kilos per year

Operating a web shop? For every page visit, a website emits on average 0.5 gram C02. So an online shop with 100,000 page views per month emits a staggering 600 kg of C02 every year.

According to data from Shopify, the average online conversion rate is 1.76%. This equates to 1 out of every 56 visitors buying a product in a web shop.

Digital online intelligence provider similarweb writes that on average, shoppers tend to visit 7.8 pages before making the decision to buy a product or go somewhere else.

This makes for a very simple calculation. Multiply the average emittance (0.5 gram) with the number of users visiting until a purchase is made (56), with the number of pages they open (7.8).  On average, every online sale generates 218.4 gram C02. 

Compare this to 309 gram of C02, the average emission for delivering a package. 

The more complex a website is, the more energy it requires to load, the greater its impact on the climate. If a web shop has a few plugins, some heavy images or a video is preloaded, it easily exceeds the average emission for delivering a package. 

Stand out from the crowd

There are more than 1 billion websites on the internet today, most of which have no notion of online emissions. The carbon footprint of the internet use accounts for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. estimates that in 2030, 20% of the total electricity consumption comes from ICT.  

It’s time to stand out. It’s time to let your visitors know that shopping at your website doesn’t come with a hefty price. Making sure an average sale on your website doesn’t exceed the emission for delivering a package is a good start.

Zifera offers all you need to analyze, optimize and compensate your website's emissions and make sure your visitors will happily come back, with a green conscience.

Interested in carbon conscious development?
Find out what we can do for you.