AUTHOR

Paul Needler
Paul Needler
Partner – Urban Logistics

A growing desire among consumers to purchase products online is putting a tremendous pressure on city resources, its citizens, and the environment. From new clothes to coffee machines, the Covid-19 lockdown saw customer online orders rocket and are showing no sign of slowing down. A consequence of this surge has been increased congestion and higher emissions. So, what can be done to address these challenges?

The increase in demand for home delivery of online purchases is having a direct impact on people living in cities, with estimates by the World Economic Forum predicting 36% growth in vehicle congestion by 2030, adding 11 minutes of commute for each passenger. Just a glance at recent figures shows there are now over 200 million Amazon Prime members globally, with next day delivery available to 70% of customers. Meanwhile, 87% of carbon emissions on logistics were generated by transport, while 13% is by buildings. And with the 3.8 billion parcels purchased online in the UK alone expected to double by 2030, you can see why we have a challenge.


Businesses are also facing their own set of challenges. With an expectation from customers to receive their items more quickly than ever before driven by the ‘Amazon effect’ with its next day deliveries, goods need to be held ever closer to their final destination. This significantly affects the shape and size of the freight and logistics network. The impact on emissions is also driving a need to rapidly decarbonise fleets.


So how can we collaborate to find a way to deliver significantly more parcels with fewer vehicle movements? Lessons can certainly be learned from New York City, which struggled with an inefficient waste collection network that created overlapping routes leading to unnecessary congestion, emissions and noise to the streets. The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) realised that a more efficient system could provide relief while contributing to the city’s sustainability goals. DSNY teamed with Arcadis to develop an optimised waste collection plan that minimised impacts on residents and the environment.


Another way to help reduce vehicle emissions is by transitioning to an Electric Vehicle fleet, which would require the creation of an infrastructure strategy to make the transition, incorporating where to put chargers, how to support the necessary power upgrades and future trends on traffic. Urban Freight businesses looking to decarbonise their fleets could benefit from data-driven insights to support their business planning and implementation strategy.


We worked with London's Metropolitan Police Service to visualise the potential benefits of fleet electrification. Drawing on several different sources of data, ranging from property databases to fleet data, power capacity, parking spaces and user behaviour, we determined several future scenarios and associated costs. This helped to lay the foundations for an Electric Vehicle business case, and associated roadmap.


Another organisation with a vision for sustainable economic growth is Transport for the North (TfN), which is developing a Decarbonisation Strategy to set how to achieve an accelerated path to net-zero across the region. We’re bringing clarity to this process and supporting the strategy by working on a ‘gap analysis’ to identify the key actions that TfN can take to ensure the clean growth benefits of rapid transport sector decarbonisation are well understood.


Recognising the impact that the challenges we’ve identified will continue to have on Urban Freight, we believe that working together in a collaborative approach, businesses and cities can together leverage technology and innovation, drawing on experience from across industry to develop sustainable solutions which help to improve quality of life.


Paul Needler recently presented this topic as part of a World Business Council for Sustainable Development workshop on Urban Freight.

AUTHOR

Paul Needler
Paul Needler
Partner – Urban Logistics