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Here’s How Asos Cut Per-Order Carbon Emissions by 30%

Asos is striving to do good for the environment.

On Tuesday, the youth-oriented fashion e-commerce giant said it has slashed the amount of carbon emissions generated through the fulfillment operations per order by 30 percent in the five years since committing to this eco goal in 2015-2016.

Not only that, but per-order carbon emissions have shrunk for the past three consecutive years, Asos said in its Carbon Report, culminating in an 18 percent improvement for fiscal 2018-2019, thanks in large part to its 1-million-square-foot Atlanta fulfillment center going online—which has allowed the merchant to minimize the number of orders it flies in from the U.K. Opening the stateside warehouse has enabled Asos to offer convenient—if carbon-heavy—options like next-day delivery for coastal U.S. shoppers.

Despite Asos’ expansion from 12.4 million active customers and £1.44 billion ($1.84 billion) in revenue in fiscal year 2016 to 20.3 million active customers and £2.73 billion ($3.5 billion) in turnover through fiscal year 2019, per-order emissions declined even as the company overall emissions increased. For example, its absolute carbon footprint climbed by 4 percent from 83,993 tons to 87,384 tons between 2012 and 2018. Yet the e-tailer’s carbon footprint per ton shrank by 14.6 percent from 25.35 to 21.64 over the same frame.

According to Asos CEO Nick Beighton, 2015’s Carbon 2020 initiative has relied on the “delivery of six big ambitions” that limit “grams of carbon dioxide per customer order,” and minimize one of online shopping’s biggest drawbacks: environmental harm.

British fast-fashion e-tailer Asos has reduced the operationally derived carbon emissions generated per order by nearly one-third.
Asos has trimmed per-order carbon emissions by 30 percent as its prime young adult demographic demands action on the climate front. James Veysey/Shutterstock

“Those ambitions focused on reducing emissions relating to our customer deliveries and returns, order packaging, energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption, and switching to renewable energy sources,” he wrote in a foreword to the Carbon Report.

Asos recently took another step toward reducing its footprint by converting to a fully digital returns process. Shoppers will no longer receive printed returns labels inside their parcels, a move the company said will eliminate the roughly 64 million inserts it sends annually, equal to saving 8,450 trees.

With orders and group revenue both up 20 percent in the four-month period ended Dec. 31, 2019 and youth culture demanding action on the environmental front, a growing Asos business has every incentive to keep its greenhouse gases under control.