How sustainable is online trade? For the first time, a ranking that lists international e-commerce marketplaces according to their sustainability performance is published. Second-hand business models score high in this ranking.
The most sustainable international marketplace active in Europe is the American second-hand platform eBay. In second place is Redbubble, a platform that originated in Australia, and allows artists and designers to sell their creations worldwide. Third is Etsy, the well-known marketplace for handmade and vintage products. These are the results of research commissioned by Cross-Border Commerce Europe, the platform that stimulates cross-border e-commerce in Europe.
The fact that eBay leads the ranking should come as no surprise: thanks to their focus on the sale of second-hand goods, it is estimated that about 16 per cent of the marketplace's revenues are green. Amazon, on the other hand, focuses on selling new products, making its business model score below average. Yet Jeff Bezos' company still ranks fifth thanks to clear targets regarding environmentally friendly warehouses, electrically powered fleets, and sustainable materials, products and packaging.
American companies dominate the top ten. The highest-scoring European marketplace on the list is bol.com, which ranks eighth. French Leboncoin (10), German Spreadshirt,(11), British ASOS (14) and Belgian FNAC also make it into the top fifteen. Zalando falls just behind with a seventeenth place, Farfetch and Lyst complete the top twenty.
The ranking - in full the "Top 100 Cross-Border Sustainable Marketplaces in Europe" - is based on a score out of a 100 across ten weighted KPIs such as sustainability goals, business model, shopping experience, certification, last-mile delivery and carbon footprint. The study takes into account all types of B2C, B2B, C2C and P2P online platforms operating in Europe, from all industries except travel.
From the 100 marketplaces appearing in the ranking, 40 per cent have clear and ambitious sustainability objectives, in line with the European 'Green Deal', the analysis shows. As many as 70 per cent have signed up to eco-labels or sustainability certificates. The research team purchased and analysed products and concluded that 27 per cent of the supply could be considered sustainable. Marketplaces that focus on handmade items and customised products by consumers receive an above-average score: Depop, Vinted and StockX are good illustrations of this fast-growing segment.
Marketplaces saw a 60 per cent increase in searches for eco-friendly and ecological items last year. Buyers are more often looking for biodegradable, reusable and vintage items. Yet 'only' 40 per cent of the top 100 aim to sell at least 20 per cent sustainable products and services by 2025. They prefer to work with sustainable logistics providers, but only 10 per cent advise against air transport. The average transport footprint per item delivered in Western Europe is 4.53 kg CO2 at Amazon. That is three times as much as an eBay product, where the emission is 1.5 kg CO2 per item.