What is the carbon footprint of e-commerce sites?

12 June 2023 | digital pollution

The rise of e-commerce sites

E-commerce has known an important growth these last years. Benefiting the Covid, of the modification of purchase practices, and of the development of an important offer, the e-commerce represents in 2021 a turnover of 112 billion euros in France. 

With today more than 200 000 e-commerce sites in France, many companies and organizations use this new sales channel, as well in BtoB as in BtoC, for digital or physical products.  

Is e-commerce really polluting? 

 We often hear arguments in favor of an important pollution related to e-commerce. But what is it honestly? 

The pollution of packaging linked at the e-commerce 

 Indeed, realizing orders on e-commerce sites and mobile applications needs the use of packaging sometimes frighteningly. Who never received an object of 10 cm in a box that could accommodate several shoe boxes? 

An important work needs to be realized by the e-merchants to optimize the supply chains, and the use of adapted packaging. Because a box used for e-commerce will be reused in less than a case to 5. To reduce the pollution, some initiatives are developing. Note for example the reusable packages, such as those developed by the Hipli society. Their packaging is reusable up to 100 times, and this strongly reduces the carbon footprint of the e-commerce packaging. 

Transportation of e-commerce packages and the carbon footprint

Once put in a box, the product must be driven to its final destination. And here again the carbon footprint of e-commerce seems bad. Indeed, every package is driven individually, and even if they are gathered, the carbon footprint of the delivery of products of common consumption is important. It is indeed more virtuous to deliver 100 products from a point A to a point B, than 100 deliveries to different points. 

 Here also, some solutions are put in place to mutualize deliveries. Relay points and Package Relay are a good example. By centralizing as close as possible the package deliveries from the houses, we’re avoiding kilometers of transportation in town, which allows to reduce the carbon footprint of e-commerce. 

This is available in urban areas. But what about the areas more sparsely populated and that don’t have the whole shops offer? It also needs to be considered that e-commerce can have some virtuous effects to avoid kilometers in car. If you live in a mountain for example, some specific products are available only at 100km from your home (tools, clothes, computer equipment, books, …). In this case, e-commerce allows to mutualize the delivery of these products, and so to reduce the carbon balance sheet of travel. The equation is a little bit more complicated than expected.

What is the carbon footprint of e-commerce sites?  

Something strongly interests us in Greenoco: what is the carbon footprint of e-commerce sites?  Yes, the website itself. Indeed, these websites use host servers within the data centers, consume electricity, which is itself carbonated. We talked about in our article on the environmental impact of data centers. We also explained why electricity was responsible for more than 40% of CO2 emissions in the world. 

When we know that in 2020, digital consumes between 10 to 15% of the global electricity, and is responsible for 6% of CO2 emissions, it is interesting to measure the carbon footprint of these sites. 

By using the tool of measuring the carbon footprint of a web page developed by Greenoco, we can measure the carbon footprint of several e-commerce sites, such as marketplaces, great distribution, specialized distribution or second hand. 

And the gaps are important since we note some carbon footprint going from 0.25g per home page viewed for the most virtuous (La Redoute and ManoMano), to 1.47g for Amazon.



Emission in g per page view

Greenoco eco-score rating


Mano Mano




La Redoute
















Ali Express








Label Emmaus




Back Market




C Discount




Le bon coin







Measure realized the 21/06/2022 on the home page of every site, in the desktop version. 

Potential carbon emission reductions of 5 to 50%.

Especially, depending on sites, we have identified possible optimizations ranging from 5 to 50%, without changing neither the structure nor the website functionalities, simply by optimizing some resources. 

These platforms benefiting of important development budgets, they are in general pretty well optimized. But potential optimizations in terms of minification or compression of js or of css, and the optimization of some pictures would allow to reduce again the carbon balance sheet of websites. 

Navigation, the only carbon impact of e-commerce websites?

In order to be complete on the digital carbon footprint of these websites, it would need to analyze more pages (research, category, product, shopping cart, pages, etc…), thus the emails and attached files sent during the purchase process. Indeed, emails and attached files of bills or purchase orders, and the way they are generated, can also present an important carbon footprint. 

So what shall we do? Should we stop e-commerce? 

E-commerce allows to access at the purchase of all products or services, almost everywhere in the world. It’s an important step forward. If this mode of consumption can present risks (over-use of packages, product return policies a bit ecologic, transportation in urban areas, …), it also exists some solutions to make it more virtuous. 

In this way, Greenoco helps the e-merchants to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of websites, still by increasing their operational performances. To know how much your website pollutes, don’t hesitate to test it with our tool of measuring the carbon footprint of the website. 

And to realize a complete carbon audit of your website, contact-us!

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