Title: E-commerce, paper and energy use: a case study concerning a Dutch electronic computer retailer

Authors: M.J. Hoogeveen, L. Reijnders

Addresses: Open University Netherlands, P.O. Box 2960, 6401 DL Heerlen, The Netherlands. ' Open University Netherlands, P.O. Box 2960, 6401 DL Heerlen, The Netherlands ' '

Abstract: Impacts of the application of e-commerce on paper and energy use are analysed in a case study concerning a Dutch electronic retailer (e-tailer) of computers. The estimated use of paper associated with the e-tailer concerned was substantially reduced if compared with physical retailing or traditional mail-order retailing. However, the overall effect of e-tailing on paper use strongly depends on customer behaviour. Some characteristics of e-commerce, as practised by the e-tailer concerned, such as diminished floor space requirements, reduced need for personal transport and simplified logistics, improve energy efficiency compared with physical retailing. Substitution of paper information by online information has an energetic effect that is dependent on the time of online information perusal and the extent to which downloaded information is printed. Increasing distances from producers to consumers, outsourcing, and increased use of computers, associated equipment and electronic networks are characteristics of e-commerce that may have an upward effect on energy use. In this case study, the upward effects thereof on energy use were less than the direct energy efficiency gains. However, the indirect effects associated with increased buying power and the rebound effect on transport following from freefalling travel time, greatly exceeded direct energy efficiency gains.

Keywords: e-commerce; energy efficiency; paper use; retailing.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2002.003737

International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 2002 Vol.18 No.6, pp.541 - 548

Published online: 22 Dec 2003 *

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