Just-in-time deliveries, whereby stock is less and less often sent from the warehouse by traders, and the ever-increasing demands of web consumers have lead to a rise in the number of vehicles on the road, particularly in cities. Today, e-logistics needs to be able to make rapid deliveries to its customers, whether B2C or B2B, with competitive prices, while also meeting environmental constraints. As you might imagine, ensuring a balance between productivity and the need to consider the environment is a considerable challenge.
Alternatives to roads
While packages are delivered for the most part by road, new, less polluting modes of transport are emerging and sometimes make up the entire logistics chain, with supplies delivered by train, tram or waterways. An example: The eco-responsible urban delivery company Vert Chez Vous, which offers B2B and B2C deliveries by combining electric vehicles, NGV and waterway transportation with a barge providing package distribution in Paris via the Seine, as well as a fleet of scooters. These new means of delivery show that transporters and loaders are taking environmental constraints into consideration. This has increasingly been the case since 1990 with the introduction of the “Euro” European emission standards for manufacturers of heavy duty vehicles, in order to reduce polluting emissions. As well as replacing lorries with alternative modes of transport, other measures can be taken to ensure deliveries are more economical and less polluting. For example, the sharing of delivery routes, which enables a reduction in CO2 emissions as there is less traffic on the road.
Green initiatives at bpost
The increase in the number of delivery zones with the development of pickup points and automatic package kiosks also forms part of this sharing strategy. bpost has taken these new requirements into consideration and is already offering over 680 “Points Poste” in various locations (supermarkets, businesses situated in the vicinity, bookshops, local authorities, etc) with extended opening hours.
In addition, there are automatic package distributors: “bpack 24/7″. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, bpost already has over 90 of these, strategically located close to stores, supermarkets and public transport (to locate them go to: www.bpost.be/bpack247). In addition to satisfying consumers’ need for flexibility, these enable bpost to respond to the increase in e-commerce sales by avoiding peaks in unit deliveries and the affect this has on CO2 emissions.
bpost also studies urban distribution centres and urban logistics spaces. We will tell you more about this in the coming months. In fact, given the neutrality and extent of the network, the Belgian postal operator naturally appears as a key player in these new initiatives. We have already discussed the “bpost on appointment” solution which enables dispatches from several retailers to be grouped and routed together, and therefore transport costs to be reduced whilst decreasing the carbon footprint, thanks to deliveries being grouped by area.
These are not isolated measures. bpost has the ambitious aim of reducing its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2020 compared to 2007 (at the end of 2013 bpost had already achieved a reduction of -31% compared to 2007). How? As well as the innovative projects mentioned above, work is carried out daily in the company which also looks at reducing waste production, responsible consumption of paper and promoting sustainable mobility among staff. To deliver postal items, bpost uses vans, but also some 3,200 bicycles (for routes of between 6 and 15 km), 2,440 electric bicycles (for routes between 15 and 30 km) and even 2,200 mopeds (when the journey exceeds 30 km). In addition, bpost’s fleet of vehicles includes ten electric tricycles acquired in 2013. To support this ecological approach, internal initiatives have been put in place by the company, such as the “Eco driving challenge”. This is a race which sees participants compete in teams of two (made up of a manager and a postman) in bpost vans around a closed circuit. The challenge: to raise awareness of responsible driving among staff while also demonstrating innovative alternative mobility solutions.