Measuring the Impact of Shipping and Packaging
Etsy has long strived to be a sustainability leader in the ecommerce industry. We’re proud to have been the first major online shopping destination to completely offset carbon emissions from shipping in 2019, shining a light on the substantial emissions impact from transportation and logistics. Today, we not only offset shipping for all purchases on Etsy and Reverb, but we also include the carbon footprint of packaging materials in our emissions reduction investments.
We believe that transparency is crucial when it comes to corporate efforts to combat climate change, which is why we share detailed sustainability metrics in our annual Integrated Report. The methodology we developed for calculating carbon emissions from shipping and packaging to inform our investments in offsets is assured by PwC, and outlined below.
Measuring carbon emissions from shipping
Etsy calculates greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by applying a mail class-specific emissions factor (kg CO2e/shipment kg/km) to each shipment. Emissions from shipping activity are based on third-party reports with CO2e information received from our shipping partner, USPS. To calculate greenhouse gas emissions for each shipment, we use shipment weight, distance traveled, mail class, and an emissions factor based on the mail class derived from USPS emissions and shipment data. For shipment weight and mail class, we use data from Etsy and Reverb shipping labels where available. Where weight and mail class is not available, we estimate the emissions based on available data, including estimated shipment weight based on product type. We calculate the distance between buyer and seller using our internal records of buyer and seller latitude and longitude. We apply an uplift of 12% to the direct mileage between buyer and seller to take into account mileage using road transportation and direct flights (rather than ‘as the crow flies’). We review this uplift factor annually.
Calculating our packaging footprint
For Etsy, we calculate this metric using survey data collected from Etsy sellers on packaging materials and reuse, publicly available evidence on the carbon impacts of different packaging materials¹, the number of packages shipped on the Etsy marketplace and the associated packaging weight by packaging material. For Reverb, it is calculated using assumptions on packaging type by product category (e.g., guitars), publicly available evidence on the carbon impacts across packaging materials¹, and the number of orders on the Reverb marketplace and the associated packaging weight by packaging material using publicly available weights of packaging materials.² For each shipment from an Etsy or Reverb seller, we multiply the weight of the packaging material by the associated emissions factor from the Franklin Associates report to derive greenhouse gas emissions.¹ For both Etsy and Reverb, we incorporated U.S. average recycling rates by packaging material into our analysis by pro-rating associated disposal emissions.³
¹ Franklin Associates. Life cycle inventory of packaging options for shipment of retail mail-order soft goods. Prepared for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and U.S. EPA environmentally preferable purchasing program. April 2004.
² Packaging materials specifications from uline.com. Accessed 20 August 2020.
³ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Paper and Paperboard: Material-Specific Data. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/paper-andpaperboard-material-specific-data and Plastics: Material-Specific Data. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/plastics-materialspecific-data. Last updated 5 January 2021. Accessed 28 January 2021.