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Centre for London calls for more click & collect options to reduce environmental impact of online shopping


A new report by think tank Centre for London has recommended the installation of more, and better, parcel collection points in the UK capital to reduce the environmental impact of ecommerce and improve air quality.

The Active Last Mile: how can we boost out-of-home deliveries? looked at how to help enable people to walk or cycle to pick up their packages and how this would help London. It suggested there should be at least one collection point within 250 metres of 90% of Londoners’ homes.

Centre for London also called on retailers to ‘nudge’ shoppers at the checkout to choose out-of-home delivery. In its trial, Londoners who received a ‘nudge’ at the checkout about the environmental impact of home deliveries chose Click & Collect 71% of the time.

The report hoped a move to an ‘active last mile’ where consumers collect their own packages on foot or by bike would help mitigate some of the emissions caused by home deliveries.

It reported the number of kilometres travelled by light commercial vehicles in London has grown over the last 20 years, despite the kilometres travelled by other motor vehicles (such as cars and taxis) decreasing. The report estimated that home deliveries resulted in 100 million kilograms of CO2 emissions in London during 2020-21.

While it recognised a switch to electric vehicles would help with emissions, such EVs still add traffic to London’s streets. The report also noted the introduction of innovative last-mile delivery solutions such as cargo bikes offer a low- (and potentially zero-) carbon alternative for home delivery, but stressed these bike deliveries are more limited in less dense parts of outer London.

The report therefore recommended a better network of well-located collection and return points – made up of a mixture of in-store Click & Collect, parcel shops and and parcel lockers – in order for more people to choose out-of-home deliveries.

“Parcel lockers should be seen as essential pieces of street furniture like bike racks, bus stops and post boxes”, a Centre for London spokesperson said.

“Councils need support to make attractive and safe pick-up locations in residential areas possible in the current planning system. And online retailers need to work together to share pick-up locations.”

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