Sustainable Energy

How companies are transforming the way our groceries are delivered

Transforming the way our groceries are delivered

With many of us juggling busy work and social lives, online grocery shopping is becoming an increasingly convenient way to stock up on food, drink and everything else in between.

According to market intelligence agency Mintel, one in ten Britons purchase all of their groceries online, with the market worth an estimated £8.6 billion in 2015.

Yet while shopping in this way allows us to save time, the actual process of delivering our shopping can be inefficient. In the Netherlands, one company is looking to streamline and "green" the delivery process.

"We have created the 'milkman 2.0'," Michiel Muller, co-founder of Picnic, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"If there are three customers in the street we do it at the same time whereas a traditional supermarket would go from one customer, go to the complete other end of the city and come back an hour later for your neighbor," Muller added, before going to describe the current process as "very inefficient."

Muller said that Picnic had "created a completely new distribution model where we sort of cracked the last mile in terms of the way we distribute."

"We reduce or eliminate, basically, the amount of pollution in inner cities, which is a big issue for municipalities where they have all these small vans zig-zagging across the city," he went on to say.

The idea of making an online delivery service 'green' is not unique, however. Big U.K. supermarket Sainsbury's, for example, offers shoppers the choice of 'green slots.' Green truck icons show customers whether deliveries are already being made in their area and if so, they can select an "eco time slot" to get their shopping delivered.

Back at Picnic, solar power and biomass engines are used at its logistical hubs, while its business model helps to mitigate any environmental impact.

"We are far more efficient in terms of energy consumption: because you only have a warehouse in one place, we don't have fridges or a cooling system in all these supermarkets," Muller said.