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eBay, Next and Twitch: the sites generating the most CO2 when in use

Image: Adobe Stock

The impact of the internet on the environment is often overlooked, but websites that are ‘asset heavy’, with many videos and images, have a surprising impact on greenhouse gas emissions, a new study suggests.

Web design agency Banc has assessed just how much energy leading websites generate when being used and found that eBay is the UK site with the highest monthly emissions, producing 907.8 tonnes of CO2 every month. Despite it receiving more site traffic each month (some 282 million), Amazon UK generates fewer CO2 emissions than eBay.

eBay US is also the ecommerce site generating the most emissions monthly worldwide (1430.3 CO2 tonnes per months, roughly equivalent to 127,460 gallons of diesel being consumed, while Macy’s is the world’s highest emitting fashion site, generating 276.9 tonnes of CO2 monthly.

An eBay spokesperson commented: “This ’research’ is guesswork and is fundamentally flawed. As of 2020, 74% of the energy sourced for eBay’s owned data centres and offices is renewable, with plans to make this 100% by 2025. This research completely ignores that fact, and nor does it recognise that eBay adheres to the climate target setting guidance of the SBTI initiative, a global initiative to align business commitments with the goals set at the Paris summit in 2015. eBay’s environmental footprint data is published annually in our Impact Report.”

When it comes to fashion, Next is the clothing site that generates the most CO2 emissions (45.3 tonnes CO2 per month), while Marks and Spencer had the highest traffic of any fashion website (25,786,823 site visitors monthly) but only generated the third-highest volume of CO2 emissions (16 CO2 tonnes per month).

BBC Good Food was the worst offender for food websites, producing the highest emissions (58.8 CO2 tonnes) and Twitch was the gaming site with the highest emissions both in the UK and the world, creating 140.4 CO2 tonnes per month in the UK and 3,444.8 CO2 tonnes worldwide. In fact, Twitch’s is that popular its CO2 tonne emissions were over double the emissions of Steam Community, the UK’s second highest gaming site.

Senior Content Marketing Manager at Banc, Leanne Coppock says: “The findings of our study shed light on the importance of how your website setup can impact the environment. There are measures businesses can take to improve the eco-friendliness of websites, cutting down on the amount of data-intensive, energy-sapping imagery used across your site can help. You should also make sure that your site isn’t loading larger images than it needs to; make sure you know the dimensions of your website inside and out – otherwise you could be putting a strain on it. You can also reduce the file size of your imagery – without compromising on quality – with image compressing programs like TinyPNG, and use more efficient file formats such as WebP over JPEGs. Try to limit the number of different fonts you use, and rely on system fonts like Arial where possible. Likewise, go for web font file formats with better compression methods like WOFF and WOFF2 as opposed to TTF, OFT and SVG file format. Working to a specialist web design agency can ensure you make your site as efficient and eco-friendly as possible.”

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