A majority of companies DHL surveyed are willing to invest little — or nothing at all — into sustainable ecommerce fulfillment.

Sustainability — or practices that support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality — is top of mind for many small and medium-sized businesses.

But a new survey shows that many small businesses face obstacles on the path to achieving sustainability. Meanwhile, another research report shows that left unchanged, the ongoing environmental impact from last-mile ecommerce deliveries will be harmful.

Sustainable ecommerce fulfillment comes at a cost many won’t pay

Delivery and logistics services provider DHL conducted a survey of 2,500 small and medium-sized businesses. It finds that 95% of companies say sustainability is important to their business. And almost half (48%) believe it’s extremely important. But when asked about the biggest challenge to achieving sustainable goals, 42% said the overall investment is the main obstacle. 11% said they had no clue where to start.

Sustainability is important to almost every respondent, DHL says. But “nearly half (47%) are willing to invest only 1%-3% of their operating budget into sustainability practices,” according to the DHL survey. “And 26% are not willing to invest anything” into sustainable ecommerce fulfillment.


If left unchanged, the environmental impact of the rising number of ecommerce deliveries globally will also cause more air pollution and human health issues.

A new report by Clean Mobility Collective and Stand.earth Research Group claims ecommerce and the associated emissions from last-mile delivery will continue growing exponentially. The report predicts global annual parcel volume could increase from over 315 billion parcels in 2022 to up to 800 billion parcels a year in 2030.

Without any greener changes to how these parcels are packaged and delivered, global ecommerce deliveries will emit up to 160 megatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, according to the report. That’s equivalent to yearly CO2 emissions of up to 44 coal plants.

“Approximately 1 billion trees would need to be planted and allowed to grow for 10 years to sequester the emissions of a single year of current last-mile parcel deliveries,” the report says.


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