Despite ‘Green’ Marketing E-scooters Contribute To Global Warming From Harlem To Hollis

Many companies that produce e-scooters are quick to point to the environmental benefits of using them for transportation, but a recent study suggests that these vehicles aren’t quite as “green” as many would believe.

While still better for the environment than traditional vehicles when it comes to emissions, a recent study conducted by researchers from North Carolina State University suggests that there are better transportation options out there.

“E-scooter companies tout themselves as having little or no carbon footprint, which is a bold statement,” noted corresponding study author Jeremiah Johnson.

Manufacturing and distribution

Based on their findings, the researchers admit that shared e-scooters do produce fewer emissions than other, larger standard vehicles. However, the environmental cost of manufacturing and distributing these devices can be problematic.

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“We found that the environmental impact from the electricity used to charge the e-scooters is fairly small — about 5% of its overall impact,” Johnson said. “The real impact comes largely from two areas: using other vehicles to collect and redistribute the scooters; and emissions related to producing the materials and components that go into each scooter.”

The researchers compared e-scooters to cars, buses, electric mopeds, and bicycles to see how each fared when it came to different measures of pollution. They found that each type of vehicle had a “similar” outcome for each measure.


While the findings were fairly similar, the researchers did note some differences between the four vehicle types. Specifically, they said that using a bicycle or electric bicycle was better for the environment than shared e-scooters, but only in certain circumstances.

“Biking — even with an electric bike — is almost always more environmentally friendly than using a shared e-scooter. The sole possible exception is for people who use pay-to-ride bike-share programs. Those companies use cars and trucks to redistribute the bicycles in their service area, which can sometimes make them less environmentally friendly than using an e-scooter,” said Johnson.

The researchers say that additional measures taken by local and state authorities could further reduce the impact of e-scooters and make them more environmentally friendly. That could be important as cities across the U.S. begin to increasingly embrace e-scooters as a mode of transportation.

“Allowing — or encouraging — companies to collect scooters only when they hit a battery depletion threshold would reduce a scooter’s impact, because you wouldn’t be collecting scooters that don’t need re-charging,” Johnson said.

The full study has been published in Environmental Research Letters.

Editor’s note: We could not find out before this posting, but we wondered if tests by cities before these vehicles released to the public are tested for their effect on the environment?

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