Irish online shoppers should not be fooled by offers of free shipping on their purchases when there is an environmental cost to be paid, a senior executive with the world's largest parcel delivery company has warned.
Peter Harris, International Sustainability Director with UPS, said the firm would support the idea of having carbon footprint information included in every parcel delivered.
"The trend towards advertisement of free shipping is questionable because there is no such thing as free shipping," he said.
"We think that the customer should be given true and comprehensive information about the impact of the decisions that they're making so that they can be helped to make the right decisions."
He said if it helped to include the carbon cost on each parcel delivered, UPS would have no difficulty with that.
"Anything that improves the transparency of the transaction, the whole supply chain, including the last mile, is a good thing. We fully support that," he said.
"This information was already available to commercial customers.
"We can measure very accurately the carbon emissions of their shipment in our operation and we can do that on anything from a single transaction up to an entire global contract. "We're seeing an increasing interest in that," but added: "It's still got a way to go."
Mr Harris was speaking as UPS announced a joint venture with Trinity College Dublin which will see the company's second Dublin 'eco hub' located on campus, a new Parcel Motel facility also located on campus and the development of an internship programme for students.
Dublin's first eco-hub on Wolfe Tone Street on the northside acts as a mini distribution centre where UPS employees pick up parcels for delivery on foot and by bike.
The hubs will allow for 720 delivery stops a day to be made on foot or bike, taking five diesel delivery vehicles out of the city centre.
UPS eco-hubs are now in 30 European cities as part of the company's plan to cut its total global greenhouse gas emissions by 12pc by 2025 compared to 2015.
Mr Harris accepted taking the diesel out of deliveries in city centres could not counteract the transport emissions of the company's vast global parcel delivery operations.
While UPS also aims to have 40pc of its delivery trucks and vans running on electricity or hydrogen by 2025, finding solutions to aviation emissions will be much harder. "That is a major challenge," he said.
Irish consumers spent €2.7bn on overseas online purchases in 2018. Commercial buyers spent much more.
Earlier this year, more than 180 CEOs in the United States - including Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Apple's Tim Cook - came together to redefine how corporations should operate, calling for a shift from only prioritising profits to improving society by meeting the needs of all stakeholders.