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Dirty Delivery Report: the carbon cost of online shopping

Online shopping this Black Friday is expected to break records but at what cost to the environment? The personal finance experts at money.co.uk have investigated how much CO2 could be produced by the million of packages set to be delivered across the country.

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After crunching numbers the experts predict that, with sales estimated to rise by at least 14% vs last year, Black Friday 2020 could be responsible for 429,000 tonnes of carbon emissions; equivalent to 435 return flights from London to New York.

How the big five delivery companies contribute to the carbon creation:

Updated 20 April 2023
Delivery CompanyBlack Friday 2020 CO2 Predictions (Tonnes)
Royal Mail35,659

One of the UK’s largest delivery companies, Hermes, is predicted to produce the most carbon emissions this Black Friday. The company delivered 13.9 million parcels in 2019 which is estimated to have resulted in 51,152 tonnes of carbon being produced. 

Assuming the estimated rise in online Black Friday transactions this year, and that the average parcel is delivered, it is predicted that 58,313 tonnes of carbon will be emitted by Hermes delivering parcels to households across the UK. 

Dirty Deliveries - how carbon conscious are the UK’s delivery companies?

Dirty Delivery; the most carbon conscious delivery companies

Of the 12 delivery companies included in the report, Royal Mail was identified as the most carbon conscious delivery company, scoring 54.5 out of 60. The company has the largest ‘feet on the street’ network of 90,000 postal workers, and they have reduced carbon emissions by 29% since 2005. The company has recently invested in a 295 strong fleet of electric vehicles. 

Amazon takes the top spot for the number of click and collect parcel locations in the UK with around 16,000. Not only do these click and collect locations and lockers help the environment by preventing numerous home deliveries, they also serve to drive much-needed footfall into local business. 

The company has also invested heavily in electric vehicles with 1,800 vehicles from Mercedes-Benz to be added to its delivery fleet in Europe this year.

Eco-friendly shopping habits of UK consumers

Just one in 10 shoppers (11.7%) factor carbon friendly delivery into their online shopping decision, but almost three quarters (72%) admit preferring retailers who offer free delivery; the least eco-friendly option.

One in five (20%) said they would refuse to pay extra to offset the carbon generation by their purchase, compared to 17% who would pay upto £2 to do so.

Age plays a part in eco-shopping decision making. 16-24 year olds are twice as likely (16%) to opt for a green delivery option, compared to the 55+ age group (8%). 

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said: “With almost a third of consumers (32%) stating that they would be more likely to shop with a retailer if they offered a green or eco-friendly option, it is clear there is some appetite for more environmentally conscious delivery methods.

“Despite this, our research found that 20% of shoppers did not want to pay to offset the environmental impact of their online purchases and a further 42% admitted to not feeling any environmental guilt when purchasing items online. 

“Although there is clear interest from consumers to reduce their carbon footprint when shopping online, it appears speed and reliability are two qualities British consumers are more keen for delivery companies to possess.”

Find the full money.co.uk Dirty Delivery Report here: https://www.money.co.uk/guides/dirty-delivery-report-2020


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Salman Haqqi

Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Salman left the world of journalism and moved to the UK to pursue a passion for personal finance and a desire to help people make informed financial decisions.

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Joel Kempson

Joel Kempson, Personal Finance Writer

Joel Kempson devotes his time to helping people navigate the world of personal finance and make informed decisions about their money. He spent his early career writing about TV, movies, comic books and rock music.

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About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.