New Research Shows Small, Online Businesses Create Environmental Benefits
By: eBay Inc. Staff
Compared to brick-and mortar stores, they are far more climate-friendly.
SAN JOSE, CALIF. – September 14, 2010 – eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, and environmental research and carbon-footprint consulting firm Cooler, Inc. released a white paper today demonstrating the tangible climate benefits created by small, online retail businesses. These small e-retailers eliminate the need for carbon-intensive brick-and-mortar stores and manage inventory and shipping in ways that are climate-friendly compared to big box retail and frequent car trips to the mall, the findings show.
Cooler’s white paper, commissioned by eBay, underscores the environmental value of enabling consumer-to-consumer online selling and supporting online entrepreneurs and small businesses to compete globally against larger retailers. For example, compared to a single big box retail store grossing $100 million per year, new data reveals that the day-to-day operations of $100 million in sales through small, Web-based businesses generate approximately 1,400 tons fewer CO2-equivalent emissions per year than their offline counterparts: that’s the same amount of energy it takes to power 108 homes for a year. The impact of an individual shopper is equally dramatic – a consumer who spends $100 at a brick-and-mortar retail store is paying to release about 53 pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the same as nearly three gallons of gas from a mid-sized vehicle.
“eBay has long understood the inherently green nature of our global online marketplace, which enables nearly 92 million buyers and sellers to create profitable and highly efficient business models that don’t rely on carbon intensive infrastructure,” said John Donahoe, eBay, Inc.’s President and CEO. “Cooler’s new white paper provides foundational research that allows us to extend our support of entrepreneurs and small businesses in ways that drive meaningful progress towards a lower-carbon economy.”
Since eBay’s founding 15 years ago, the infrastructure savings of transactions on eBay alone have cumulatively displaced emissions equivalent to approximately 4 million tons of CO2 per year, or the annual output of 760,000 cars – roughly the number registered in the state of Kansas or West Virginia.
“We know that by connecting consumers to more energy-efficient, lower-carbon goods and services, retail businesses play a critical role in advancing clean energy solutions,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “The private sector has a huge opportunity to innovate and drive us toward a more climate-friendly clean energy economy. We are encouraged today that this new study could point us to one such opportunity.”
Donahoe hosted an event today in Washington, DC, at which Cooler founder and white paper author Michel Gelobter presented his findings to leading environmental groups, including the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Fortune Contributing Editor Marc Gunther moderated a discussion about the research and how such findings can influence retail models, consumer behavior and public policy.
This work builds upon previous study commissioned in 2008, where eBay and Cooler partnered to quantify the specific climate impact of buying particular pre-owned goods on eBay versus driving to a store to buy the same product new. A few of the highlights from that study include:
- Choosing a previously loved leather handbag saves as much energy as used on a flight from London to Paris.
- Selecting a refurbished smart phone saves the energy equivalent of driving 186 miles. It also saves the energy equivalent of 3 days of household energy.
- Choosing a previously owned espresso machine saves 90% of the CO2 needed to produce a new one.
To learn more about eBay’s green initiatives, visit us on our Web site at ebay.com/greenteam, visit us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. To download the full white paper, please visit ebay.com/greenteampress.
About eBay Inc.
Founded in 1995 in San Jose, Calif., eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) connects millions of buyers and sellers globally on a daily basis through eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, and PayPal, which enables individuals and businesses to securely, easily and quickly send and receive online payments. We also reach millions through specialized marketplaces such as StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, and eBay classifieds sites, which together have a presence in more than 1,000 cities around the world. For more information about the company and its global portfolio of online brands, visit www.ebayinc.com. Building on this positive foundation, eBay Global Citizenship was formed to harness the capabilities that underlie our core businesses to further our ability to be a "force for good." Our citizenship portfolio includes the eBay Green Team, the eBay Foundation, and our ventures for social good - eBay Giving Works, MicroPlace, and WorldofGood.com by eBay.
Cooler’s mission is to connect every purchase to a solution for global warming. For businesses and consumers, Cooler aims to make it easy to know the impact of behavior and to take direct action to reduce it. Cooler brings together cutting-edge software development, climate and energy expertise, and the world’s best-known companies and environmental organizations to provide trusted and transparent ways to stop pollution, to generate jobs, and to invest in a clean energy future.