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Green e-commerce in France - statistics & facts

The term sustainable e-commerce has emerged in recent years in reaction to realizing the effects of consumerism on the planet. With 94 percent of the French population using mobile phones and 85 percent having access to the internet, the environmental costs of electronic production up to the virtual storage of personal data is leaving its mark.

The footprint of online platforms

In 2020, the e-commerce industry registered an unprecedented growth and the annual revenue of around 112 billion euros also due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Available on all digital devices, shopping apps received a lot of traffic, with Amazon in the lead. Even though Amazon ranked at the higher end of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the leading 100 e-commerce sites in 2020, other platforms such as Hotels.fr or LeroyMerlin.fr were emission friendlier.

Consumers are rule-changers

Acting against big cultural shopping events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the French days, the Green Friday movement was launched in reaction to what was seen as an over-consumerist event having devastating effects on the environment. Instead of buying new products, the environmentally aware French population is starting to use second-hand platforms and other forms of shared economies. A popular example is Airbnb, which supplies an online platform for accommodation rentals between individuals. In the online fashion industry, Vinted.fr was the most used online marketplace for selling secondhand clothes. As the consumer mindset is rapidly changing, the market is expected to react at the same speed. Physical and online businesses are even adopting new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to adapt to the new “green” consumer values.

Challenges for retailers

Generally speaking, the most impacting factors of online shopping activity are energy consumption and CO2 emissions due to delivery and storage. Short-distance shipments are generally the most polluting, since home delivery necessarily involves road transport. Faced with this problem, greener shipping solutions are emerging, such as the use of autonomous cars or deliveries to collection points, preferred by 38 percent of French online shoppers.
Even though the packaging needed to transport parcels is also at the heart of the debate, new circular economy models are helping to extend the life of products. Rental and reconditioning marketplaces and second-hand platforms such as Vinted have multiplied over the past ten years and are expected to grow. Nevertheless, the technological impact of "greenly" advertised marketplaces is an often neglected factor, as digital waste is not visible to the naked eye.

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