Facebook Pinterest Search Icon SourcingJournal_horiz Tumbler Twitter Shape photo-camera graph-trend Shape latest-news icon / user

Black Friday Is a Carbon-Belching Nightmare

While eco-friendliness in the supply chain has been a hotly debated topic among brands, suppliers and manufacturers alike, the concept doesn’t appear to align well just yet with consumer’s unrelenting demands for fast and free shipping. One survey from Money.co.uk indicates that the expected flood of deliveries on Black Friday—at least in the U.K.—will come at a staggering cost to the environment.

Deliveries from Black Friday shopping in the U.K. are expected to release over 429,000 tonnes (or metric tons in the U.S.) of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, according to the report, equivalent to 435 New York-to-London roundtrip flights. The tonnage estimate stems from Pricerunner predictions that online Black Friday shopping will increase 14 percent in the country this year.

One of the U.K.’s largest delivery companies, parcel delivery service Hermes, is expected to produce the most carbon emissions this Black Friday. The company delivered 13.9 million parcels last year, producing an estimated 51,152 tonnes of carbon. That number is expected to bump up to more than 58,300 tonnes this year.

Delivery carrier DPD is seen producing the second-most emissions at 41,952 tonnes, while Royal Mail comes in at third with 35,659 tonnes of CO2.

Across the pond, Amazon’s Black Friday is set to be less green than ever, with an estimated 5.1 million transactions that day seen releasing 18,854 tonnes of carbon into atmosphere.

To compile The Dirty Delivery Report, Money.co.uk analyzed the environmental credentials of the top 12 delivery firms across the U.K., the number of packages they are predicted to deliver, as well as the carbon produced by each delivery. The online service helping U.K. consumers and businesses compare mortgages, loans, credit cards, bank accounts and insurance also surveyed 2,011 U.K. residents aged 18-55 as part of the report.

While consumers, particularly younger ones, are often considered the drivers of sustainability and climate change-related initiatives, only 11.7 percent in the U.K. factored carbon-friendly delivery into their decision when purchasing online. Conversely, 72 percent said they would look more favorably on a retailer offering free delivery, which is often the least eco-friendly option.

The survey found that 32 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to shop with a retailer making a green or eco-friendly option available.

“Despite this, our research found that 20 percent of shoppers did not want to pay to offset the environmental impact of their online purchases, and a further 42 percent admitted to not feeling any environmental guilt when purchasing items online,” Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at Money.co.uk, said in a statement. “Although there is clear interest from consumers to reduce their carbon footprint when shopping online, it appears speed and reliability are two qualities British consumers are keener for delivery companies to possess.”

By contrast, 17 percent of shoppers would pay between £1 ($1.32) and £2 ($2.64) to offset an online purchase.

Twice as many 16-to-24-year-olds (16 percent) say carbon-conscious delivery factors into their online shopping decisions relative to the 55+ age group.

The delivery company and its quality factors into the decision as well, according to survey. As many as 45 percent of online shoppers say that the delivery company used by an online retailer impacts their purchasing decisions.

This is especially true for those aged between 16-24 as 56.7 percent admitted that an e-tailer’s delivery provider would make them think twice about completing their purchase.

Royal Mail, Amazon rank as U.K.’s most ‘carbon-conscious’

Of the 12 delivery companies evaluated in the report, Royal Mail was identified as the most carbon-conscious delivery company, scoring 54.5 out of 60, well ahead of Amazon, which ranked at 47.5, while DPD came in third at 39.

The couriers are ranked based on a combination of four factors, including click-and-collect score, cycle delivery score, walking delivery score and electric vehicle score.

Royal Mail, boasting the largest “feet on the street” network of 90,000 postal workers, has trimmed carbon emissions by 29 percent since 2005 and recently invested in 295 new electric vehicles.

And as Amazon seeks to continue building out its worldwide fulfillment network, it takes the top spot in the U.K. for nationwide click-and-collect parcel locations with approximately 16,000. These click-and-collect locations and lockers help the environment by preventing numerous home deliveries, but they also can even drive much-needed footfall into local businesses hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The e-commerce giant has also invested heavily in electric vehicles with 1,800 vehicles from Mercedes-Benz to be added to its delivery fleet in Europe this year upon joining The Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040.

More from our brands