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Box Inc and YouGov unveil representative study on sustainable e-commerce, transport and packaging

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Box Inc and YouGov unveil representative study on sustainable e-commerce, transport and packaging

May 27, 2021 - 07:08
Posted in:
    STOCKHOLM, Sweden, May 26, 2021 (Press Release) -
  • 46 percent of consumers believe online commerce is not sustainable
  • 44 percent of consumers believe its more sustainable to buy in store than online
  • Consumers believe its possible to make E-commerce more sustainable by addressing their concerns about transports and packaging

Swedish start-up Box Inc today unveils a representative study conducted together with YouGov. The Germany-wide survey found a discrepancy between facts and perceived perceptions of consumers: Consumers predominantly consider stationary retail to be more sustainable. The main reasons for this are the transport methods of the ordered goods and the packaging waste. From the consumers' point of view, the retailers are responsible for reducing their carbon footprint. The study also investigated which measures can contribute to improvement. These include the optimization of transport methods and returns, the use of sustainable, recyclable packaging, and carbon offsetting.

E-commerce is more sustainable than bricks-and-mortar retail

Since the start of the pandemic, the e-commerce sector has experienced a renewed boom. One topic that is discussed time and again in this context is sustainability. The results of a recently published study by Oliver Wyman speak for themselves: e-commerce is in fact more environmentally friendly than stationary retail. According to the Wyman study, shopping on the Internet is more sustainable than in stationary stores. This is primarily due to the emissions generated by retail buildings and consumers’ transport to the store. Consumers think differently: 46 percent of those surveyed believe that e-commerce is not a sustainable form of shopping. Only 13 percent believe that ordering online is more environmentally friendly than in a retail store.

Transport methods and returns as sustainability killers

Consumers are particularly critical of the transport methods for online orders and returned goods, which require further transport: The majority of respondents believe that transport (49 percent) and returns (73 percent) make online retailing unsustainable. 59 percent of consumers believe that environmentally friendly delivery trucks are key to making transports sustainable. Consumers have several ideas about how to reduce return rates: up to 29 percent say that paying for returns could reduce them.

Sustainable packaging is the key

In addition to transport and returns, the respondents also focus on the packaging used by mail order companies. Consumers (68 percent) are particularly clear on one thing: plastic packaging has the most negative impact on sustainability. Instead, consumers believe that packaging should be recyclable (57 percent) or paper-based (40 percent) – such as corrugated cardboard or cardboard. More than half (53 percent) of those surveyed think it is more sustainable if the same packaging can also be used for possible returns.

Majority sees retail as having a duty to reduce emissions

Despite the broad social discourse on carbon footprint, a quarter (25 percent) of respondents do not know what it is all about – but the majority have a good or some understanding of it. A high share of consumers (28 percent) say they would pay to offset the carbon emissions of the shipment of their online purchase. The majority, however, is not interested in this and sees the responsibility with online retailers.

Mikael Fristedt Westre, founder and CEO of Box Inc, explains: "We wanted to understand what consumers believe to be true about sustainability in e-commerce and it is fascinating to see how it can differ from presented facts. This is truly an opportunity for online stores to educate consumers."


The representative study was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Box Inc. The survey took place between April 21 and 23, 2021, in the course of an online survey. The sample consisted of 2,084 consumers in Germany.

The complete whitepaper on the study with all results as well as tips for even more sustainable online trade can be found at

About Box Inc

Box Inc is a digital B2B marketplace for the procurement of corrugated board packaging. The platform makes it easier for companies to purchase packaging that is renewable, plastic-free, widely recycled and therefore a low-carbon alternative for brands and companies. The company was founded in 2019 and is part of Stora Enso, one of the world's leading providers of sustainable solutions in the fields of packaging, wood-based biomaterials, wood construction, and paper. Box Inc operates as a separate and independent company, but follows Stora Enso's strict supplier code of conduct regarding sustainability.