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While digitalization increases efficiency in trade transactions and consequently facilitates more trade, it can also contribute towards minimizing the environmental impacts associated with trade processes. By going ‘paperless’, greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation and water usage associated with the production of paper documents used to support trade transactions can be saved. Moreover, the efficiency gains from digitalized processes can result in less emission from energy consumption and less waste generation and water consumption in office premises. The elimination of physical document transportation can also cut carbon emissions from fuel usage. To explore the environmental impact associated with trade transactions in more detail, a case study of the export process of garments from Bangladesh is conducted. This paper analyses the trade processes and associated environmental aspects in detail to quantify the impacts associated with the current “as-is” export process, introducing a methodology that can be integrated in future business process analysis studies. It also calculates potential savings in CO2 emissions, waste generation and water usage that may be achieved though digitalization. The study finds that there is great potential to minimize the environmental impact of trade through the implementation of paperless trade, although the savings are minor compared to the current environmental impact of transport in international trade. Further research on the environmental impacts from trade facilitation is recommended, supported by more systematic data collection of environmental impacts associated with trade processes, as done in this study.

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