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E-COMMERCE- PROSPECT OR THREAT FOR ENVIRONMENT

Tarun Paul Singh1


The internet facility has created a new economic ecosystem, the e-commerce market
place has become the virtual main street of the world. The quick and convenient way of
exchanging goods and services has boomed e-commerce a lot. Due to fast development
of e-commerce, companies are paying so much attention to the low cost products . Also
there are focusing on developing efficient method and practices which increases
productivity in minimum efforts and cost. They are not aware and hence not concerned
about its adverse environment implications. E- commerce manages the business activities
but it may have some negative effects like air pollution, harmful radiation etc. Ecommerce is the main foundation of the economic development in several developing and
developed nations.

One can argue that the pollution from the transportation used to

reach shopping malls can be avoided, retail space can be reduced, inventories and waste
can be also be reduced by virtue of E-Commerce. However one should also considered
the fact that the product online may be shipped partially by air freight across the country
and require local truck delivery. Also the product is likely to be packed individually,
which causes various negative impacts.
One cannot human life without telecommunication technologies, mobile, internet,
video,television and many other resources that the multimedia transmission offers. This
telecommunication facility now a days increases the comfort of the people and enhances
the feature of E-Commerce.3 But equally important is that its application must be in

Tarun Paul Singh,Student B.A;L.LB 3 Year,Baba Farid Law College,Faridkot


A prospect or threat to environment,By Sunita Tiwari, Member IACSIT, Pratibha Singh
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Optimism or Pessimism:Environmental Impacts of the E-Commerce,ByKeshnee Padayachee
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control and protection of the natural resources and the environment with powerful
satellite system and offer the man the ability to observe and predict the environmental
impact caused naturally and by human actions. Technology has too much facilities to
offer to the man for environment protection. The need is to make these technologies
resistant to possible negative impact to the environment and ultimately to the human.
Essential to have well defines rules that pursue efficient mechanisms for monitoring and
surveillance and procedures for its installation and operation.

Impact of E- Commerce on the environment


The overwhelming sustainable development and the major technological innovations
have not only brought fundamental change to the economic system but also excessive
environment impacts, for better or worse. The environment implications, in most cases
are a reflection of human economic activities as mediated by the technology. After
decades of development, the internet brings a new era, in which worldwide participants
has been increasing. Brazil,Russia,India,China and Indonesia represents about 45percent
of world population and had approximately 630 million internet users. 4 With the
advancement of Internet and its applications more and more people will use the electronic
commercial activities.With the increase internet penetration some important question
which are being raised are like can the internet led information technologies serve as the
important means to improve the environment or do the development of sustainable
compete or coincide with the new reality of sustainable development and many more
which need to be answered with the increasing growth of this sector.5
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5

Wireless Technologies Environmental Impacts, By International Publication Year: 2009 , pp: 523 52
Indian Council For Enviro- Legal Action v. Union of India, (1996) 2 SCC 577

The Founding father of modern computer science and technology John Von Neuman
claim in his appreciated work on "Can we survive technology?" that technology power
and efficiency is unsure achievement. E-commerce is not always the most efficient model
in term of cost, energy consumption, pollution, dematerialization, de-carbonization and
demobilization.6 Kalakota and whinston defined e-commerce from four perspective:
communication perspective,business process perspective,service perspective and online
perspective. From a communication perspective,e-commerce is the information of the
delivery of the information,product or services, or payment of the telephone
lines,computer network, or any any other electronic means; from the business process
perspective,e-commerce is the application of the technology towards the automation of
the business transactions and work flow;from a service perspective, e-commerce is a tool
that addresses the desire of firms,consumer and management to cut service costs while
improving the quality of the goods and increasing the speed of service delivery;from
online perspective,e-commerce provides the capability of buying and selling products and
information on the internet and other online services.7
A closer look at the environment impacts of he internet reveals that the potential positive
impacts of the Internet quickly revels the potential positive impacts are the only one sided
of the story. Although the potential of the internet to save the material cannot be
denied,its too early to conclude that e-commerce has only the positive impact on the
environment. Each potential impact is coupled with potentially overwhelming negative

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"Can we survive technology" ByJohn Von Neuman


Assessing the resource intensity of the Internet structureBy Economics, Lund University, Lund,2001

impact as well.8 Say for example moving business online can reduce waste such as
printed catalogues, retail space and transportation requirements,but we have to
manufacture more energy intensive computers instead. Internet has already dramatically
increased mass production of various products on a global scale. The ease of online
shopping itself had cause people to buy more. In term of energy consumption, faster
delivery requirement tend to create a situation in which trucks moving half empty. Ecommerce also tend to favor faster transportation modes,which can increase fuel
consumption exponentially. Therefore some of the increase in transport energy
consumption energy can be attributed to the growth in e-commerce as it tend to
encourage the consumer preferences to more energy consumptive,faster deliveries trips.
Actually the Indian economy is the double edge sword. Despite the growing literature on
environment impacts of e-commerce,our knowledge of the extent of, and the mechanisms
behind, the patterns of material use and energy consumption are very much limited.9
The environmental effects of e-commerce focuses on three aspects: energy,resources and
pollution. As of today the scientist and policy makers still do not have clear statements
about the relationship between the e-commerce and the environment.10

Effects E-Commerce on global warming


Global warming is a phrase that refers to the effect of human activities on the climate.
The burning of fossil fuels(coal,oil and gas) and large scale deforestation causes large
amount of greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide emission has the most significant
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Environmental effects of e-business and Internet economy By German Federal Environment Ministry
Border step Institute for Innovation and Sustainability,Berlin,2001
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Virtual Dematerialization: E-business" By Information Society Technology Programme,2002
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"Utilizing E-Commerce and M-Commerce" By Karakow ,School of Computing University of South
Africa Unisa.

impact on the global warming. During the world treaty in December 1997 the point was
discussed restricting human production of "greenhouse gases' carbon dioxide. They
feared that CO would result in the human caused global warming.11 Many political efforts
had been made to overcome this problem in the last couple of years but a lot of work still
need to be done.Each potential positive impact is coupled with the negative impact as
well. For instance- moving business online can reduce waste such as printed catalogues,
retail space and transportation requirement,but we have to manufacture more energy
intensive computers instead. In fact carbon dioxide emissions and energy use for the
online purchase were found to be 35% less than the trip in car to the mall.

EFFECT OF E-COMMERCE ON PUBLIC HEALTH


E-Commerce has also influenced the growth of the network technology and the
standards.Also the wireless technologies are being extensively used now a days in
intranet and internet. This has exposed the user to harmful electromagnetic radiations.
Due to the rapid expansion of these network technologies service providers need to install
a lot of base station to meet the user requirements and to maintain the quality of the
service.This increase the harmful radiation which may affect the human health
negatively.These radiation may even causes diseases like cancer. There are adverse
effects on human health due to non-ionizing radiation in particular.12
While talking about the pollution the first thing which comes to ones mind is the
industries pouring sewage in the rivers or vehicles emitting smoked in the air and the
pesticide affecting the quality of the food products. But besides this one should remember

11

V. Lakshmipathy v. State, A.I.R.1992 Kant. 57 at 66.

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Digital Economy: The E-for-Environment E-commerce?New York Inc Environmental

the other type of pollution that cause serious harm to health,such as visual
pollution.13Visual pollution influence mind and psychology. The network infrastructure
are mainly designed keeping in mind the technical requirements but commercial
broadcasting,television,data-communication,radar,radio,communication,has

helped

produce an unpleasant aesthetic impact on the environment,affecting the landscape of


cities, and has been raising great concern of public entities and society in
general.Therefore, there is a need to make network technologies immune to the possible
negative impacts to humans and the environment. This can be done by having well
defined rules and procedures for network installation and operation. Moreover, It is
essential that these rules are met through efficient mechanisms for monitoring and
surveillance.14 An instance which studies provide relatively consistent estimates of mobile
devices energy consumption. According to reports states that110.22KJ per day,which
equates to 0.031 kWh per day. Another estimates that a charger consumes 3 W while
charging the phone while charging the phone and 1.5W while the charger remain plugged
in all but sits empty,suggesting daily consumption of 0.0375kWh per day but that new
smart charger require only0.027 kWh per day.15

E-COMMERCE EFFECT ON GREEN HOUSE GAS EMISSION


E-Commerce application requires three basic options in sourcing e.g. creating electronic
marketplaces,seek new suppliers using information technology to enhance current

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"Quality of IT Support for Corporate Environmental Management" Information Management, 2007.


ICDIM '07. Volume: 1, Publication Year: 2007
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Effects of E-Commerce on Greenhouse Gas Emissions"Journal of Industrial Ecology Volume 6, Number
2 , pp 83-97, 2008
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The Internet Big Picture World Internet Users and Population Stats
,http://www.Internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

supplier relationships.Changing the relationship have two important effects on


environment- they can affect the distance that the suppliers are transported and play an
important role in reengineering which can cut down the overproduction. Electronic
markets may lead to more sales between the suppliers and the customers that are not
proximity to each other.E-Commerce may also link local suppliers and customers that are
not in proximity to each other.E-Commerce may also link local suppliers and customers
that are not in proximity to each other.E-Commerce may also link local suppliers and
consumer.This may lead to increase or decrease in Green House Gas Emission from
transportation,depending on modes and distance of transportation.
E-commerce places heavier pressure on the costs and lead times. This may shift the
controlled manufacturing options and production may follow the fluctuation of the
demands more accurately and hence overproduction can be decreased. Also,e-commerce
demands faster deliveries with little or no charges.As a result one has to move to shorter
delivery lead times of their competitors.These piles up tremendous pressure on global
companies.But by better and more fluent cooperation, companies could establish better
transportation fill rates. This would make distribution more efficient.16
CONCLUSION
From the study of e-commerce it can be said that e-commerce cannot always be
considered as a prospect for environment as it imposes certain threat to the
environment.Energy saving and time saving are few positive factors of e-commerce but
they are associated with certain negative aspects. So, it is very difficult to state that the ecommerce is a prospect or a threat and it is not easy to clearly define whether the positive
effects have the weigh over the negative ones,or the reverse is true. It is totally dependent
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"Internet

users in BRICI countries set to double by 2015". International Business Times

on the people who are the user of the internet that how they can use it. If it is used
properly then it will be in the benefit of the society otherwise it may be the reason of
spoiling the environment for forthcoming generations. The important point which is to be
said here is that environment does not have to bear at the cost of the economy. In future
as consumer become more attentive to the negative impacts of the global warming due to
the internet usage, they may insist to select e-commerce with those organization that
enforce an ethical perspective for reducing carbon emissions.