Amazon moving toward greening e-commerce

NEW YORK: Environmental bloggers are positive about the Oct 12 acceptance of a new patent submitted by online bookseller Amazon Inc which could reduce the environmental impact of e-commerce but increase the delivery time.

In a twist to the usual Internet retail shipping policy, where paying more leads to receiving the goods faster, Amazon is proposing that paying more for shipping would lead to a slower, but more environmentally friendly delivery.

The patent states that "The environmental impact of various transactions can be reduced or offset by determining the impact of various shipping and packaging options, and providing these to the customer... A customer can also purchase environmental offsets to offset the determined impact."

Essentially this means that customers could choose to have their product delivered by a hybrid vehicle that may have to make several stops or by transport that avoids routes through major cities, or customers could purchase an equivalent amount of carbon offset credits.

The news received a generally positive reaction online and most bloggers were keen to see what this could mean for the future of shipping. Some of the reactions from bloggers were:

"The ultimate solution for green minded customers." - Ariel Schwartz of website Fast Company.

"Fascinating to see Amazon apply its e-commerce model to the world of carbon credits." - technology blog TechFlash.

"Curious to see how it evolves from patent to future implementation." - environmental site Mother Nature Network.

However despite the company's best intentions and no doubt extensive market research it remains to be seen how many people would pay the additional cost of offsetting their carbon credits only to wait longer for their purchase to arrive.

Amazon has yet to release a press statement regarding the patent.

Other online retailers such as eBay also offer environmentally-friendly solutions. The auction site is testing a re-usable box amongst its customers in an effort to reduce the packaging waste associated with the world of e-commerce.

The patent by Amazon Inc is available to read in full here, - Relaxnews 2010