Secret emissions of e-commerce: New research on how delivery companies are polluting our streets and cities

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A new report from Stand.earth Research Group, commissioned by the Clean Mobility Collective, shows that the last-mile emissions of the six most polluting delivery and e-commerce companies* alone is approximately 4.5 megatons of CO2, roughly equivalent to CO2 emissions from 600,000 US homes’ energy use for one year. This is only set to increase in years to come, especially as all companies are secretive about their impact.

Greg Higgs of Stand.earth Research Group said, “We researched 90 courier companies across Europe, India, and North America. Not one of them openly discloses their last-mile emissions. We discovered that the top six polluters account for over two-thirds of total CO2 emissions across all parent companies in our database. In addition, these six companies are also primarily responsible for subcontracting delivery services to many of the remaining companies in our dataset, which means their negative impact on the climate and public health is likely to be even higher.”

Transport is already the world’s largest source of new greenhouse gas emissions, currently responsible for almost 12% of all emissions worldwide. At the same time, global CO2 emissions rebounded to their highest levels in history in 2021, post-Covid lockdowns. Streets across the world are danger zones, filled with polluting fumes, carbon monoxide and worse. 

Clean Mobility Collective’s International Coordinator Aslihan Tumer said: “In cities across the world, delivery vehicles have taken over our streets. But delivery and logistics companies have kept very quiet about how much pollution their vehicles cause. The inexorable rise of online shopping, especially through celebrated events such as

Amazon Prime Day, shows that the delivery industry is likely to continue growing unabated.” 
Despite companies’ big claims for green fleets and moves towards electric vehicles (EVs), very few are practicing what they preach on sustainability and climate change. The commitments of the top six polluting companies are far behind what is needed to reach zero emission deliveries as a matter of urgency. Several lack plans and targets entirely, while all of them lack transparency and shroud the pollution and environmental impact of their parcel delivery operations from the public and consumers

People are dying prematurely from air pollution, and so is our planet. There is a clear and urgent need for companies to come clean about their emissions – and to commit to clear, time-bound plans to move to zero emission deliveries by 2030.
*In descending order, the top six biggest polluters are: UPS, FedEx, Amazon Logistics (logistics and courier division of Amazon),  DPD, eKart (courier division of Flipkart), and DHL eCommerce Solutions (courier division of Deutsche Post DHL Group).

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