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JANUARY 14, 2021

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MIT study finds online shopping to be more sustainable than malls

by Andrea Zander

This past holiday season was the most environmentally friendly yet due to online shopping, according to a study MIT conducted in partnership with Prologis focused on the environmental impacts of ecommerce versus in-person shopping.

Carbon emissions from online shopping are 36 percent lower, on average, than those produced by in-store trips. One van of deliveries can replace more than 100 individual trips to a store, leading to a 90 percent cut of transportation emissions.

The share shift to ecommerce resulted in approximately 2.4 percent fewer emissions per package.

And ecommerce in the United States accounted for almost 20 percent of overall retail sales last holiday season, a 6 percent point increase compared with 2019.

As companies continue to build out their logistics networks, including more warehouses near city centers, transportation-related emissions can be reduced by 50 percent and the carbon footprint per package reduced by 10 percent.

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