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Study questions sustainability of e-commerce deliveries

19 February 2016 - 12:09 by Mike Price

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The environmental impact of the rise of safe shopping online is something that many campaigners have questioned but now a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Delaware, has made firmer predictions about the changes it is causing.

The report suggests that the growing number of delivery vans and trucks taking to the roads is not only resulting in a greater amount of harmful emissions being generated, but also putting pressure on transport infrastructures which, ultimately, leads to congestion according to the Guardian.

Researchers found that while e-commerce activities had grown at a slower rate than expected among their particular sample group, the amount of traffic had indeed risen, leading to greater travel delays and higher levels of pollution.

Of course, it is worth pointing out that in earlier studies there has been data to suggest that, in fact, the popularity of safe shopping online is leading to a reduction in emissions and congestion. This makes sense, because fewer consumers are jumping in their cars to head to the high street and multiple orders are being handled by individual vans.

But researchers warn that this may only have been a temporary effect, since the convenience of e-commerce deliveries has spurred on a rise in overall consumption, meaning that the initial benefits are offset by the volume of orders seen today.

In fact, people may be saving time by shopping online, but they are not simply sitting at home. Instead, they are heading out to socialise with others, head to restaurants and travel just as much as they did in the past.

With many automakers developing alternatively fuelled vehicles, (AVFs), at the moment it should be possible for both recreational motoring and commercial delivery services to become more eco-friendly in the next decade.