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New tool will assess the environmental impact of different retail business models

INESC TEC coordinates the e-LOG project, whose objective is to assess the environmental impact of different retail and distribution strategies, considering the origin and destination of the products sold, their nature and transportation methods.

03rd January 2022

"In general, there' a reasonable knowledge of the environmental impact of traditional logistics operations, but the environmental impact of new retail strategies is not known, particularly with regard to new business models and consumption habits, associated with e-commerce”, explained Tânia Fontes, the CESE researcher leading the project.

In this sense, the project will develop a methodology based on mathematical models, which allows the comparison of the environmental effects of different business models in proximity logistics, namely retail sales in confined physical spaces, e-commerce and omnichannel commerce (online and offline simultaneously).

“Of all types of transportation, goods vehicles represent between 21% to 55% of gas emissions. The situation could worsen due to the increasing online commerce, leading to more cross-border sales and, therefore, long-haul freight traffic. All of this takes place in a new context, characterised by the need to reduce greenhouse gases (Europe aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050). The methodology that we're developing will be used to design innovative distribution strategies, seeking to mitigate some negative external factors of this activity”, said Tânia Fontes, who is part of the team composed of CESE researchers Jorge Pinho de Sousa, Joel Ribeiro and Hugo Ferreira.

e-LOG aims to extract knowledge from different data sources, so it can be used to: (i) improve the environmental efficiency of distribution services; (ii) provide strategic information to different decision-makers (authorities, municipalities, logistics operators) on the environmental impact of different business models; (iii) increase the efficiency and quality of retail services; and (iv) promoting the transparency of operations, improving information to citizens, and showing how the quality of life is affected by adopted policies and regulations (for example, what's the impact of potential restrictions on movement).

e-LOG (Sustainable Delivery of Orders: A Decision Support Tool for the Assessment and Design of Innovative Services) banks on consultants from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and the Peking University (China). The project duration is 18 months - starting in January 2022. It is funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology, with a budget of €50K.