The Ecological Alternative To The Amazon Model Prepared By The Companies Of The Social Economy In Catalonia

Given the explosion of electronic commerce in Spain – where during the months of April, May and June sales soared 67%, according to data from the Salesforce Shopping Index-, the companies of the social economy of Catalonia have designed a kind of “ecological alternative” to the Amazon model that favors local commerce and uses forms of distribution with less environmental impact.

The service, which will be available in the testing phase between January and March 2021 and fully operational between June and October next year, has the help of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which has awarded them a grant of 160,000 euros. The Barcelona City Council, for its part, supports with 40,000 euros. The rest of the budget, 50,000 euros, comes from its own share capital.

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They have provisionally called it La Zona, explains Joana Ariet, communication manager for Opcions, the cooperative that has promoted the project. According to Ariet, the criteria for choosing suppliers will take into account the values ​​of cooperativism (decisions agreed in the assembly, salary equity, transparency …) and the sustainability requirements included in the map Pam to Pam.

The logistics, in charge of the Koiki cooperative, will be supported mainly by cargo bicycle and walking, although electric mobility is also contemplated.

The merchandise will arrive at specific centers and each of them will prepare the delivery routes. “Wherever there is no Koiki Center, the customer can choose whether he wants to pick up the product at a certain point or prefer to receive it at his home.” On the other hand, they suggest that there are no offers on the platform, as they encourage the purchase of an item “not out of necessity but by the mere fact that it is discounted.”

The underlying objective, explains Ariet, is “to respond to the need for online shopping that we see increasingly latent, but at the same time teaching how these corporations work and the negative effect they have on the environment and neighborhood commerce” .

The change in Spanish consumer habits has led Amazon to increase its income in the country by 70% in just one year. In 2019, the American company had a turnover of 7,567 million euros in Spain alone; in 2018 they were 490.8 million.

Although the environmental consequences of obtaining a product at the click of a button have been quantified in isolation, it is still difficult to find a calculation that reflects the ecological footprint of the product. e-commerce In a global form.

The factors that aggravate this impact are several. On the one hand, the delocalized production model favors large-scale manufacturing in regions with looser environmental regulations than in the countries where these products are consumed. “China is the world’s factory, but Europe is the second largest consumer in the world,” recalls May López, director of Companies for Sustainable Mobility. “E-commerce is getting us to consume what is not local,” he argues, with the emissions derived from transport that this implies and the malpractice in the production phases that can occur in those countries.

On the other hand, there is the distribution chain, which is not only moving the material from the places where it is manufactured to the final consumer, but all individualized routes. The fact that people ask for the products to be taken to their homes, explains López, means that the routes are personalized and therefore not optimal. These are sections known as the ‘last mile’, which take the package from the distribution center to the consumer’s home. Another problem with these deliveries is that they sometimes require more than one attempt, because people are not always at home to pick it up. This translates into a double – sometimes triple – journey that involves adding more traffic to the city, air pollution and greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. “The super-urgency, in addition, has given rise to the option of ‘delivery in one hour’, which makes it difficult for the vehicle to go with the maximum possible occupancy. Therefore, it often carries air,” adds this expert.

Then there are return policies, which in Internet sales are usually at zero cost and, as Joana Ariet warns, can lead people to adopt “unsustainable” shopping behaviors, such as “buy four sizes of a shirt, try them on at home and return the ones that don’t fit me; overall, it’s free. “

Spain is the fourth European country with the most returns, according to a report this year from the EAE Business School. If the rate of returns in conventional purchases (in physical stores) is around 6% in Spain, in the e-commerce this figure rises to 20%. Of these, 30% correspond to the textile sector. In addition to the unproductive kilometers, the habit of buying to return also requires more cardboard and plastic for packaging and overpacking of packages, which is another of the great environmental impacts of individualized delivery.

Initiatives similar to La Zona are already emerging in other regions of the country. “We are talking with the confederal commission of social markets, and we help the Social Market of Madrid to launch its own marketplace alternative. The idea is that we can cooperate and that the platform we develop here can be replicated. “

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