Grocery Home Delivery Cuts Carbon Emissions

An analysis of grocery home delivery has found an effective service can result in a major cut to carbon emissions compared to individuals trekking to the store.

Anne Goodchild, an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Washington and a co-author of the study likens home delivery to a bus for groceries.

The potential carbon emission reduction is substantial – up to 90% where customers are proximity-assigned to drivers. Logistical efficiencies can account for approximately 50% of CO2 reductions.

It makes good business sense to hone this aspect for the supermarket as well – time is money, fuel and wear and tear on vehicles.

Professor Goodchild says even stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work doesn’t do much to reduce a shopper’s carbon footprint – but I guess it depends on how far you are from the store.

It’s not just a service for cities, grocery home delivery could even work in rural areas assuming enough deliveries are in each run and it prevents what would be a single-task trip for an individual.

The green aspects aside, something I find particularly enticing about grocery home delivery is the time saving. Time is such a precious thing – we really don’t place enough value on it. Think about how long you spend grocery shopping each trip and multiply that over the year. If it’s something you don’t particularly enjoy for the social aspects or whatever; it can be a real time burglar.

Another positive aspect of grocery home delivery might be a reduction in impulse buying – which is good for the wallet, the environment and at times, the waistline. The few times I’ve tried ordering online for home delivery, I find I’m very focused on my list – Tim Tams (a decadent Australian biscuit) and other goodies don’t tend to wind up in my virtual cart unless I specifically want them.

The full study can be read here (PDF). The study is rather heavy going, so if you just want the nuts and bolts, the University has an article here.