Stellenbosch University
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Seminar: Department of Logistics
Start: 14/03/2018, 13:00
End: 14/03/2018, 14:00
Contact:Linke Potgieter - +27218082492
Location: Van der Sterr 3022

​​Speaker: Prof Henrik Palsson (Lund Universiteit) 

Title:  Environmental efficiency in e-commerce - Effects of packaging, the last mile, unsold products and product returns


The talk is based on a 3-year project where we identified and studied factors that contribute to the environmental impact of different distribution channels related to e-commerce and conventional trade. The purpose of the talk is to first analyse and explain factors determining whether conventional trade with stores or e- commerce with home delivery is more energy-efficient. Then, the talk discusses implications for companies and consumers regarding how to become more environmentally responsible in e-commerce. The project has reviewed and analysed available secondary data and captured detailed primary data from several cases. The talk will discuss general patterns of energy consumption related to six energy consumption factors (packaging, freight transport, passenger transport, product waste, product returns, buildings). It will also discuss the impact of product characteristics and product classes on these energy factors. The results show the following: 1) The net effect of energy consumption was in the majority of the cases positive for the e-commerce channel, 2) The proportion of unsold products and product returns seem to have a major impact on the energy efficiency of different sales channels, 3) Buildings had only a minor effect on the energy consumption difference. It was slightly lower in the home delivery systems, 4) Packaging contributed considerably to the energy consumption difference for some products. The e-commerce channel consumed generally more energy from packaging, but indirect effects (e.g. volume efficiency) were not considered, and 5) The total energy consumption from transportation was greater in the conventional supply chains, as the additional energy in passenger transport generally outweighed the increased energy in freight transport in e-commerce. The implications for companies and consumers that will be discussed with concrete examples are based on how they affect the six energy-consumption factors.