Lead Forensics

Growth of e-commerce may inhibit zero-carbon targets

A leading economist has looked at the effect that the growth of e-commerce could have on the government’s target of zero cabin emissions.

In economist Dr Walter Boettcher’s report “Clicks & Consequences – accommodating the rise of e-commerce”, he examines the environmental impact of the rise of online spending. If current forecasts are correct, e-commerce sales will soon exceed those from physical retail shops.

It is estimated that 54.5 million square feet of warehouse space will be required by 2025 to satisfy the growth in e-commerce sales. There will also be a significant increase in the number of HGV vehicles required to transport goods to and from warehouses and this threatens to block UK roads.

These extra buildings and vehicles create extra carbon emissions, which could make it difficult for the government to achieve its net-zero carbon target by 2050. However, the report has proposals to tackle this issue. Electric vehicles could replace diesel ones, and more goods could be transported from ports to warehouses by rail.

According to SHD Logistics, Boettcher said:

“This is an opportunity to craft a new sustainable footprint for UK commerce and now is the time to take action if the current trajectory of consumer demand is to be met, while also delivering against the UK’s ambitious net-zero targets.”

Most warehouse equipment, including storage trolleys, packing tables and shelving, is made from tubular steel. Conventionally, steel manufacturing causes carbon emissions. However, many manufacturers are developing technology to produce steel with little or no carbon emissions.

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