Ecommerce Europe’s conference on the role of e-commerce in bridging digitalization and sustainability

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On 22 September, Ecommerce Europe held an online conference on “The role of e-commerce in bridging digitalization and sustainability”, gathering business representatives and policymakers. The conference was split into two panels, with the first one exploring the role of the e-commerce value chain in the transition to a sustainable economy and the second one looking into the regulatory perspective of further unlocking the sector’s potential.

This event kickstarted Ecommerce Europe’s campaign on Sustainability, together with the publication of the first edition of our Collaborative Report on Sustainability and e-Commerce, available online here.

You missed the webinar? Watch it here:

The first panel gathered business representatives of the e-commerce supply chain. Ecommerce Europe had the pleasure of welcoming  Wouter Barkman, Director New Capacity at Bol.com;  James Atkinson, Sustainability Program Manager at DPD Ireland; Christof Trowitz, Business Development Germany at RePack and Juliette Beaulaton, Public Affairs Advisor at Ecommerce Europe. The panellists explored in detail their commitment to sustainability in all parts of the ecommerce value chain, focusing notably on the role of logistics, packaging and consumer awareness.

Focusing on three overall priorities – logistics & environment; shop & assortment and people & society – Wouter Barkman presented Bol.com’s complete sustainability approach, from Bol.com’s own operations, to empowering consumers and social entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and Belgium.

James Atkinson, presenting DPD Ireland’s sustainable solutions, also highlighted how the e-commerce supply chain can bridge sustainability and digitalisation – whether it is through the sharing of air quality data with Irish authorities, or through using digital tools to ensure first time delivery success for their customers.

Christof Trowitz guided the participants through the highly discussed topic of packaging. Representing the company RePack, Mr. Trowitz explored the opportunity of reusable packaging and reuse as a service, as well as some of the key requirements to grow these solutions further.

Finally, Ecommerce Europe presented its Collaborative Report on Sustainability and E-commerce in Europe, which gathers a variety of information, studies and best practices, meant to serve as a source of information for businesses and policymakers across the EU and beyond.

The second panel consisted of policy makers and industry representatives to discuss how to further unlock the sector’s potential from a regulatory perspective. Ecommerce Europe welcomed Rozalina Petrova, Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius in charge   of the Circular Economy Action Plan at the European Commission; Arba Kokalari, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), EPP Shadow Rapporteur on the INI Report “Towards a more sustainable single market for business and consumers”; Charlotte Cheynard, Senior EU Affairs Manager at eBay and Christoph Wenk-Fischer, CEO at Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V. (bevh) and chair of Ecommerce Europe’s sustainability working committee.

Rozalina Petrova mentioned the importance of exploring the synergies between the green and the digital transitions and added that e-commerce represented one of the areas where synergies are the most evident. She also presented the European Commission’s ambitions in the field of sustainability and emphasised the importance of achieving synergies between the digital and green transition, as demonstrated in the EU Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Arba Kokalari stated that three was a strong demand for sustainability both on the consumer and business sides and elaborated on ways to make the Single Market more sustainable through legislative harmonisation, reduction of barriers and promotion of new technologies and international trade. She presented  four concrete proposals to achieve these goals, namely the creation of a Single Market for waste; enabling easy repairs, leasing and sustainable services; harmonized labels to help consumers make sustainable choices and better market surveillance for the influx of non-compliant products in the EU.

Charlotte Cheynard highlighted eBay’s role in the second-hand, refurbished and repurposed goods market. She called for some adjustments, but also caution in introducing new rules – to ensure legal certainty and stability for SMEs. She notably called for a legal definition of refurbished items and urged for a more harmonized and simplified framework for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations across the EU.

Mr. Wenk-Fischer stated that all stakeholders have the same goal and only differ in the ways to achieve it, calling for a new style of making legislation, which rewards positive behaviour instead of forcing people to do the right thing. He urged for more harmonized enforcement of legislation across the EU and for less administrative burden.

Ecommerce Europe’s Secretary General Luca Cassetti concluded the event with a call for action in favour of a green and digital recovery post-COVID19.

For more information on Ecommerce Europe’s activities on sustainability, contact Juliette Beaulaton (juliettebeaulaton@ecommerce-europe.eu).

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