Are there eco-friendly order fulfilment centres?

19 January, 2022

E-Commerce Sustainability

Making sure your business is eco-friendly is not just good for the environment, it’s good for business too. While you may have an excellent environmental policy, however, can you be sure your fulfilment partner also has the environment in mind when looking after your shipping. 

Being eco-friendly isn’t just something you should be interested in as an individual. As a business you should also recognise that your customers may choose to shop elsewhere if they don’t think you’re as committed to the environment as you should be.

In fact, a recent study of more than 10,000 people across 17 countries shows that your eco-friendly are increasingly important in whether someone decides to shop with you or not.

Business Wire reported on a 2021 report by global strategy and pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, that found an average of 85% of global consumers have shifted their purchase behaviour towards being more eco-friendly.

60% also said they’d consider how sustainable a company is before making a purchase, what’s more, one third of consumers say they’d happily pay more if it meant their purchases were more eco-friendly and better for the environment.

And that figure is set to increase too with younger generations being the biggest driver in this eco-friendly attitude.

So, while you have made sure your own business practices are as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, how can you make sure any third-party suppliers, like those providing your mail order fulfilment won’t undo your hard work?

Do your research
There are a number of ways you can make sure those who are looking after your mail fulfilment are putting the environment first. We’ll take a look at some of these specific elements in detail in a moment but one of the best ways to find out straight away, is to have a look at the company’s website.

If a business is truly focussed on being eco-friendly, then they’ll be proud to show you what they’re doing to limit their environmental impact and highlight their ‘green’ credentials.

Asendia, for example, has its own micro-site detailing its carbon neutral status, in multiple languages, to highlight the efforts it makes to have as little impact on the environment as possible.

The pages proudly display the company’s carbon neutral status, the practices they employ, their ongoing targets and how long ‘being green’ has been a priority for them, it’s not just something they’ve done because it’s trendy.

While the micro-site is easy to digest, as all information like this should be, there are links to further reports and information that will help you find out more should you feel the need to.

If a mail fulfilment company doesn’t have an easy-to-find environmental policy, it doesn’t mean they don’t have being eco-friendly in mind, but it should make you wonder how seriously they take them.

Look for evidence
Now you can see that the mail fulfilment business is proud of its green credentials, what should you be looking for?

Delivery vehicles
Collecting your parcels and getting them to your customer will involve vans, trucks and perhaps even ships and planes. So how can you be sure these vehicles are as clean as possible, especially when some of them may well be in countries that don’t have as stringent green regulation as others?

First of all, ask the mail fulfilment company how they combat this. They may well use electric or low-emission vehicles in the UK and abroad but what about in between and how do they offset the parts of the delivery journey that aren’t as green as you’d like?

Warehouse space
Fulfilment centres use warehouses to manage a parcel’s ongoing journey but also to store products on behalf of their customers for picking and packing. <LINK TO FULFILMENT CENTRE ARTICLE>

What are the warehouses made of, how were they build and what materials have been used to make them as energy efficient as possible? If a mail fulfilment business is committed to being eco-friendly, any warehouses built in recent times will have taken the environment into consideration.

How are they powered? Do they generate their own electricity or offset their energy carbon footprint in other ways? What is their packaging material policy and how do they source the packaging or recycle any they use?

While all businesses must make sure they comply with standard environmental regulations in the territories they operate, they can also gather certifications for taking extra steps.

Asendia holds ISO14001, an international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system.

They also are a corporate partner with the Woodland Trust and are certified by EcoAct, an organisation that helps business increase and achieve its eco-friendly targets

Carbon offsetting
It’s been mentioned already a little in this article but what is it, and how does it help the environment? Simply put, carbon offsetting is a reducing or removing carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions that are unavoidably made.

Asendia, for example, will calculate all the aspects of their business where they may not be able to control the emissions when getting your package to your customer. They will then take steps to counteract those emissions in another way.

This could be planting trees, sponsoring or supporting the building of sustainable energy sources like wind farms, and promoting eco-friendly practices in other parts of the world.

Their eco-friendly policies have seen Asendia offset 59,990 cubic tonnes of CO2 in 2020 across Europe alone, making them 100% carbon neutral. In fact, Asendia’s parent company, La Poste, was the first delivery operator in the world to reach carbon neutrality by 2012 for mail, parcel, express and digital services.

Manage your expectations
With all this considered, can a mail fulfilment truly be environmentally friendly. At present there isn’t a 100% fool-proof delivery journey that does not have an impact on the environment.

From the moment a package leaves your hands to the moment it arrives on your customers doorstep, there are a number of moments where the environment could be impacted, no matter how eco-friendly the delivery attempts to be.

However, with carbon off-setting, using sustainably energy, sourcing and using environmentally friendly packaging, building environmentally friendly mail fulfilment centres, and continuously looking at ways they can do better, mail fulfilment businesses like Asendia are making a massive positive difference to our environment.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can support your own eco-friendly policies and what we’re doing to limit our environmental impact across the word. Get in touch.


Sustainability & e-commerce infographic What does sustainable e-commerce look like in 2022 (3)



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