As a pan-European online retailer, we take our responsibility for our planet very seriously and want to actively contribute to achieving global climate protection goals. We regularly measure our CO₂ footprint according to the standards of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and use the results to develop measures through which we can avoid or reduce emissions.
Scientific studies such as a recent study by the German Federal Environment Agency, show that in the majority of cases, online retailing has a favourable eco-balance with regard to greenhouse gas emissions, compared to shopping in a physical store. One aspect of online retailing that is often mentioned as particularly harmful to the environment is the large amount of returns. At zooplus, however, the returns rate is consistently below 1%, which significantly reduces the corresponding impact on the environment.
Avoiding and reducing CO₂ emissions
At zooplus, we are working on reducing CO₂ emissions in various areas, as for example:
We have a dense network of warehouses and fulfilment centres throughout Europe, so we are able to focus on short distances in order to save emissions in transport logistics. We work increasingly with climate-conscious logistics partners who use electric vehicles for deliveries.
The cardboard boxes and filling material in our parcels are mostly made of recycled materials and can be recycled after use. We continuously test eco-friendly product innovations to make packaging even more environmentally-friendly.
We use a limited number of standard parcel sizes that can be adjusted in height, to suit the parcel content. This saves on packaging filler and enables maximum loading capacity in the trucks, resulting in fewer transports overall.
We are very careful not to produce unnecessary waste, above all, not to waste valuable food resources. We regularly donate pet food products that are still in perfect condition but nearing their best-before dates, to different animal welfare organisations.
Any returns from our accessories range are usually refurbished for resale; we donate unsaleable but still usable products. Wherever possible, we repair damaged products by replacing individual parts rather than replacing the entire product.
Many of the offices and fulfilment centres in our network are powered by renewable energy sources. For example, our head office in Munich is supplied with 100% green electricity.
With customer's consent, zooplus pays a climate protection contribution per order, which is used to support certified climate protection projects and offset the average carbon emissions of an order. This way, CO₂ emitted in one place is saved elsewhere in the world or removed from the atmosphere. The idea is that it is crucial for the environment that fewer greenhouse gases are emitted overall, not primarily where this happens.
In order to avoid the emission of harmful greenhouse gases, we support, for example, climate protection projects that promote the expansion of renewable energies such as wind and hydropower, or projects that save forest areas from deforestation and thus preserve important carbon reservoirs. As part of projects to remove and store CO2, zooplus also promotes, for example, the production of biochar from bamboo waste, which permanently binds carbon. Learn more about our commitment to individual projects as well as about our partner platform Ceezer here.
In addition to their contribution to climate protection, all projects pay into one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations. Thus, in line with climate protection measures, improved health conditions or jobs for the local population are created at the same time, for example.
The projects to avoid greenhouse gas emissions are certified according to international standards such as the Gold Standard, Verra or Plan Vivo. Carbon capture and storage projects are at least already in the pre-certification phase. These independent standards ensure that the projects demonstrably save CO2 and are regularly audited by third-party auditors for their climate impact.
A voluntary climate contribution is made to a certified climate protection project that is proven to save or store CO₂ emissions or to remove them from the atmosphere. In this way, carbon emissions produced in one location are reduced elsewhere in the world; overall, the emissions are offset. The underlying principal is that it is crucial for the atmosphere that fewer greenhouse gases be emitted overall, not just where it primarily happens. In addition to carbon offsetting, it is fundamental to continuously avoid and reduce carbon emissions.
Climate protection projects help to combat global warming by verifiably reducing greenhouse gases, storing them or removing them from the atmosphere. This is achieved through different approaches, such as forest protection, reforestation or the expansion of renewable energies. The projects must meet internationally recognized standards and are certified and audited according to strict criteria, for example the Gold Standard. This ensures and regularly confirms the climate protection effect of the projects.
It is very important that these projects develop and build up additional climate protection measures that would not exist without the projects. Furthermore, the contribution to CO₂ reduction in the atmosphere must be clearly measurable. Each project must also guarantee that the CO₂ emissions saved will only be used once for offsetting and that the corresponding certificates will be retired via official registries.
Ideally, emissions should be avoided in the first place, for example by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energies in the electricity supply. Whenever it is not feasible to completely avoid carbon emissions, they should be reduced as much as possible: For example, instead of sending out a half-filled lorry on two consecutive days, a fully loaded lorry on the second day could be used. Since it is normally not possible to completely avoid all emissions immediately, it makes sense to offset any remaining emissions.
Carbon avoidance projects are certified according to market-leading standards, such as the Gold Standard, and are regularly validated by external third parties. This ensures that both development and maintenance of the projects function reliably and that the projects deliver the promised emission savings. Carbon removal projects, which often use very new technologies, are at least already in the pre-certification phase with one of the international standards.
In industrialised countries and continents, such as Europe, it is very difficult to fulfil the project criteria of additionality and the exclusion of double counting: Many climate protection measures can be realised directly through national promotion of renewable energies - even without additional financing as a climate protection project. In addition, savings in industrialised countries are attributed to the respective national climate protection targets and therefore cannot be counted a second time as part of a voluntary climate protection project.
In contrast, projects in the Global South can have a much higher impact: countries in the Global South are often hit far harder by climate change than the industrialised nations that caused the majority of carbon emissions in recent decades. At the same time, the affected countries usually have significantly less budget available for innovative climate protection. The offset compensation system can therefore promote climate protection directly in the areas most affected by climate change.