E-commerce has many advantages for both consumers and sellers, but its process has taken a toll on the environment. In this Note, I discuss two integral aspects of the e-commerce process that contribute to climate change: (1) air pollution from delivery vehicles, and (2) the use of non-sustainable packaging. I will provide insight into the U.S. environmental laws currently in place that regulate greenhouse gas emissions and other contributors to climate change, such as the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, while highlighting how these laws are minimal at best. I argue that the U.S. government should begin to address these issues by amending the existing laws to hold businesses engaging in e-commerce accountable for their carbon footprint. To illustrate, I will discuss the ways in which the Clean Air Act can be amended to regulate the delivery process, which involves a shift to the use of electric delivery vehicles and night-time deliveries. I will also highlight ways the Solid Waste Disposal Act can be amended to regulate the packaging process by focusing on a reduction in the amount of materials used in packaging, a shift to the use of sustainable materials, and a ban on the use of single-use plastics. Finally, I advocate for the passage of the proposed Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act which is currently pending in Congress.
The Dark Side of E-Commerce: The Negative Effects of E-Commerce on the Environment,
17 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L.
Available at: https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/bjcfcl/vol17/iss1/10