Changing Retail Business Models and the Impact on CO2 Emissions from Transport: E-commerce Deliveries in Urban and Rural Areas

PI: Anne Goodchild (UW),
Dates: 7/1/13 – 10/31/14
Final Project Report: PacTrans-23-UW-Goodchild

E-commerce currently represents approximately 8% of total shopping, up from 6% only 5 years ago with a compound annual growth rate of approximately 9% (Mulpuru et al. 2008, 2013). Online shopping is growing at a faster rate than traditional retailing, and presents a new model for freight transportation. By eliminating stores, e-commerce results in a more streamlined supply chain, often ending in residential rather than commercial locations. In addition, e-commerce often bypasses commercial locations, relying instead on more distribution and warehousing facilities. This project will build on previous work, which examined the carbon dioxide (CO2) impacts of grocery delivery in the city of Seattle and will examine the CO2 and criteria pollutant implications for serving e-commerce customers in rural areas. The earlier work garnered broad attention as it found significant reductions in CO2 emissions were possible when delivery services replaced personal travel, offering a sustainability advantage with online shopping. The largest reductions were observed when delivery services served geographically clustered customers. The work proposed here will look at a variety of previously unexamined customer densities, road connectivity, and depot proximities to better understand the environmental impacts of e-commerce over a broader set of land use patterns, including both rural and urban development. This will allow us to understand how the earlier findings apply more universally.

PacTrans-UW-Goodchild-Anne-Project Update-2013-S-UW-0023