Shipping and logistics for ecommerce brands & 3PLs

Carbon Neutral Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

a ship that's carrying its cargoes on the sea

As the world zeroes in on sustainability, the pressure is mounting for the shipping industry to step up.

Many industry leaders, regulatory professionals, or even small business owners are trying to understand what ‘carbon neutral shipping’ really is, and are looking for a good guide to help them.

If you’re part of that demographic, then this article might just be for you.

In here, we’ll talk about the definition, examples, and how you can apply this to your shipping process.

With that said, let’s go through this guide to carbon neutral shipping—because the future of our planet depends on the changes we make today!

What is Carbon Neutral Shipping?

a ship that's going through the ocean carrying its cargoes

Carbon neutral shipping refers to the process of offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions produced during the transportation of goods.

This is achieved by reducing emissions as much as possible through technological advancements, operational efficiencies, and cleaner fuels, and then compensating for any remaining emissions through carbon offset projects like reforestation or investments in renewable energy.

This approach helps to balance out the carbon footprint of shipping activities, making them “neutral” in terms of their impact on the climate.

Why Do People Prioritize Carbon Neutral Shipping?

The majority of why people want to push for carbon neutral shipping stems from environmental reasons, which we’re going to go through below:

Environmental Awareness

Increasing awareness of climate change and its impacts has driven consumers and businesses to seek out more sustainable practices.

Carbon neutral shipping is seen as a crucial step in reducing global carbon emissions and combating climate change.

Regulatory Compliance

Governments worldwide are implementing stricter regulations on carbon emissions. Companies are prioritizing carbon neutral shipping to comply with these regulations and avoid potential fines or sanctions.

Market Demand

Consumers are increasingly preferring to purchase from companies that demonstrate environmental responsibility. Businesses that adopt carbon neutral shipping practices can attract a growing segment of eco-conscious customers, enhancing their brand reputation and competitive edge.

Examples of Companies Successfully Implementing Carbon Neutral Shipping

a delivery personnel carrying some boxes

The e-commerce and warehousing sectors are pivotal in the global supply chain and have significant environmental impacts due to their extensive use of packaging materials and transportation resources. Here, we’ll explore notable examples of companies within these industries that have successfully implemented carbon neutral shipping practices:

Amazon

As part of this initiative, Amazon has launched “Shipment Zero,” aiming for 50% of all Amazon shipments to be net zero carbon by 2030. The company is investing in electric delivery vehicles, sustainable buildings, and renewable energy projects to offset emissions from its shipping and logistical operations.

Etsy

Etsy became the first major online shopping destination to offset 100% of carbon emissions from shipping.

This initiative automatically offsets emissions produced by every delivery shipped through the platform at no additional cost to buyers or sellers.

Etsy does this by investing in environmental projects, such as developing wind and solar energy sources and regenerative forestry projects, balancing out the carbon emissions generated by the shipment of goods sold on their platform.

Shopify

Shopify offers a carbon-neutral shipping program for its merchants through an app called Offsettr.

This app calculates the carbon emissions generated from shipping activities and allows Shopify store owners to offset these emissions by contributing to sustainability initiatives.

Contributions are used to fund projects like reforestation and renewable energy sources, helping to balance out the carbon footprint of their shipments.

Zalando

Zalando, a leading European online fashion platform, has committed to a carbon neutral supply chain, including deliveries and returns. The company achieved carbon neutrality by purchasing renewable energy credits and carbon offsets.

Zalando focuses on reducing emissions through optimized transportation routes, sustainable packaging, and increasing the energy efficiency of its logistics centers.

ASOS

ASOS has implemented a carbon-neutral shipping option for their customers, primarily through the use of carbon offsets.

They focus on reducing operational carbon emissions by improving the efficiency of their delivery routes, using sustainable packaging materials, and investing in energy efficiency within their warehouses and offices.

DB Schenker

DB Schenker, a global logistics company, has committed to reducing its carbon emissions and offers carbon-neutral warehousing operations.

They utilize energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy sources to power their facilities.

Additionally, DB Schenker provides carbon offsetting options for clients who wish to make their logistics operations carbon neutral, contributing to projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere in the environment.

DPDgroup

DPDgroup has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint per parcel by 30% by 2025, relative to 2013 levels. They have already achieved carbon neutrality for their operations by offsetting and through measures such as optimizing delivery routes, increasing the use of electric vehicles, and enhancing the energy efficiency of their buildings and operations.

Can Carbon Neutral Shipping Really Make a Difference to the Environment?

Yes, it can.

While achieving true carbon neutrality in shipping is challenging, the adoption of carbon neutral practices can significantly reduce the environmental impact of the global shipping industry.

By offsetting emissions through reforestation projects or funding renewable energy initiatives, companies contribute to a decrease in overall carbon emissions.

Moreover, these efforts promote technological innovation and encourage broader environmental responsibility across the industry.

How to Properly Implement Carbon Neutral Shipping into Your Business

an ecommerce owner thinking about something

Implementing carbon-neutral shipping practices into your business operations involves several strategic steps aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of your logistics activities. 

Here’s a detailed approach to help guide your efforts:

Step 1: Measure Your Carbon Footprint

Start by understanding the baseline emissions of your business. This involves tracking and analyzing data on the energy consumption of your operations, including electricity and fuel usage in warehouses and during transportation. Tools like EPA’s carbon emission calculator can aid in converting this data into quantifiable carbon emissions, providing a clear metric to target for reduction​.

Step 2: Opt for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Switch to sustainable packing materials such as recycled, biodegradable, or compostable options. This not only reduces the waste associated with your shipments but also diminishes the lifecycle carbon emissions from your packaging materials. Consider also optimizing packaging dimensions to fit the product snugly, thereby minimizing waste and potentially reducing shipping costs​.

Step 3: Improve Warehouse Energy Efficiency

Conduct energy audits to identify areas where energy usage can be reduced, such as lighting and heating. Implementing energy-efficient solutions like LED lighting and proper insulation can significantly cut down energy consumption, further lowering the carbon footprint of your operations​​.

Step 4: Optimize Routes and Delivery

Leverage route optimization software to ensure that delivery routes are as efficient as possible. This reduces fuel consumption and, consequently, emissions. Planning deliveries to minimize empty return trips and combining pickups and deliveries can further enhance the efficiency of your transport operations​​.

Step 5: Employ Green Energy Solutions

Where feasible, incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar or wind to power your operations. This shift not only cuts down your dependency on fossil fuels but also aligns with broader sustainability goals that could be appealing to environmentally conscious consumers​​.

These steps, when implemented thoughtfully and consistently, can help transition your shipping operations towards greater sustainability and carbon neutrality, appealing to a growing base of eco-aware customers and complying with increasing regulatory demands for environmental stewardship.

Conclusion: What Future Developments Can We Expect in Carbon Neutral Shipping?

The future of carbon neutral shipping is likely to see advancements in fuel technology, such as the use of biofuels or hydrogen. Innovations in logistics and supply chain management will also play a critical role.

For businesses focused on sustainability and aiming to adopt carbon-neutral shipping, using a system like Packiyo can be very beneficial.

Packiyo helps make every part of the logistics process both efficient and environmentally friendly. This makes it a great resource for companies that want to boost their green credentials and enhance operational efficiency at the same time.

Contact us if you want to learn more, and consider reading other topics that we’ve covered here on our blog.

So in conclusion, as regulatory pressure increases, more companies will adopt carbon neutral or even carbon negative practices, leading to widespread changes in the industry.

We hope that we’ve helped you understand this topic, and we’re looking forward to seeing you in our next article.

Take care!

FAQs

What are other ways to reduce the carbon footprint when shipping packages?

Consider using sustainable packaging materials, reducing package sizes, and encouraging customers to opt for less frequent but larger shipments.

Which shipping companies offer carbon neutral shipping?

Many major shipping companies now offer carbon neutral options, including UPS, FedEx, and DHL, among others.

How much does carbon neutral shipping typically cost?

The cost can vary widely depending on the shipping company and the size and distance of the shipment. Generally, there may be a small premium over standard shipping costs due to the investment in carbon offsets.

What are carbon offsets, and how do they work in shipping?

Carbon offsets involve investing in projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, compensating for emissions made elsewhere, like in shipping operations.

What role do consumers play in carbon neutral shipping?

Consumers drive demand for sustainable shipping by choosing products and companies that prioritize environmental responsibility. Their purchasing power can influence companies to adopt greener practices.

What challenges do companies face when implementing carbon neutral shipping?

Challenges include the high initial cost of green technology, the complexity of measuring and verifying emissions accurately, and the need for global coordination in regulations and standards.

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