Black Friday consumes the planet,” read a giant box installed by Greenpeace on Madrid’s Gran Vía this Friday. “Last year, on this day alone, 1.7% of the capital’s annual CO2 emissions were generated, six times more than a normal day, due to the transport, packaging and production of the products,” explains Alba García, head of the organization’s cities.
The Ministry of Ecological Transition does not have data to corroborate the NGO’s investigation, but a study warns that electronic commerce is increasing returns – and contamination-, generating a greater environmental impact and congesting the areas in which it operates.
This unsustainability is also transferred to the urban fabric: small merchants criticize that aggressive discounts are especially beneficial to large companies and do not have an impact on stores.
“Electronic commerce is unsustainable as it is done today, it leads to buying things that we do not need. The traditional one did not have that impact on the purchase decision.
We are consuming 1.3 planets a year ”, says May López, professor at EAE Business School and member of the technical committee on electronic commerce created specifically by the National Environmental Congress (Conama) to study this new phenomenon. New consumption habits lead people to buy things knowing that they are going to return them.
“The percentage of returns in stores was 6%, but in e-commerce 20% of the products are returned, which reaches 30% in textiles.” With each return, the environmental impact increases.
In the US they have already measured that in a year they were issued15 million tons of CO2 just for returns , “like three million cars rolling for a whole year.” In China in 2018, express courier services alone generated 13 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
These purchases are associated with another unsustainable habit: “When I buy something I want it now, even in an hour. That delivery is inefficient. It is impossible to optimize a vehicle that has to load merchandise and deliver it in an hour to a single person ”, says López, who is also the director of Business Development for Sustainable Mobility.
A third problem is that there is more garbage because there is more packaging – even double – and less guarantee that the waste will reach the waste management system.
Greenpeace calculates that in 2018 sales on Black Friday increased by 220% compared to any other day in Spain, while the Ministry of Industry does not have data for days.
Tech giant Amazon doesn’t want to reveal its numbers either, but a spokesperson explains that Black Friday and Cyber Monday week of 2019 became the biggest-selling week in company history, with hundreds of millions of products sold across the world. world.
Correos plans to distribute 48 million packages during the months of November and December, which includes the dates of November and Christmas, with an increase of 40% compared to the usual distribution activity for the rest of the year, while SEUR moved 1, 5 million packages this week and plans to double it this year.
But that cheap manna does not reach the neighborhood stores. “If it were a campaign that was limited to one week, it could be positive to give visibility to small businesses and boost sales, but many large chains started on November 11 and have extended it all month, and then Christmas will come.
It is a marathon of constant discounts that hurts small businesses because they cannot compete on margins with the big ones ”, explains a spokeswoman for the Spanish Confederation of Commerce, which brings together 450,000 merchants and estimates that 40% of local businesses have joined to Black Friday.
“We ask those who do not to drop prices. We cannot compete with two months of discounts and less with the year that we have been ”. The spokeswoman points out that the campaign does not make much difference in sales.
This issue, coupled with the fact that Amazon pays very little in Spain , led the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, to ask a few days ago “to the neighbors not to buy at all from Amazon or from large platforms that do not pay local taxes or they bring great wealth and they do it in the neighborhood and city stores ”.
In fact, French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot also made the same request this month . “In the European Union we have ambitious objectives on climate change, but at the same time we have this incongruity with consumer habits.
You have to look at local commerce, which generates quality jobs, has a positive impact and pays taxes in Spain ”, May López summarizes.