With more people ordering online during the Covid-19 pandemic alongside changing shopping habits, there are understandable concerns over the impacts on air quality and packaging on the environment. The Times reported yesterday morning that a compulsory delivery charge on Internet orders is being considered by the Department for Transport (UK) in a bid to reduce emissions from the online shopping boom.
The Head of Sustainability at DS Smith has reacted to the news, noting that it’s not just an issue with transport and commenting on the crucial role packaging will have to play. Wouter van Tol, Head of Sustainability at DS Smith said, “It’s no surprise to see that the government is considering introducing a consumer tax to make people more aware of the environmental impact of e-commerce. Lockdown has accelerated the growth of the online delivery sector, and with a culture of next-day delivery, returns and expediency, many consumers are unaware of the true environmental impact of the deliveries they’re getting.”
He continued, “In terms of sustainability, the issue here isn’t just about delivery. Both shipping containers and packaging contain large amounts of empty space, generating the equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of a country like Belgium. While a tax would be helpful to reduce both emissions and congestion, companies need to be using sustainable packaging that includes less empty space. Cardboard packaging performs this role best – recyclable in both theory and practice, corrugated packaging has high recycling rates across Europe, contributing to the wider circular economy.”