You own a business and have much to consider when things really get rolling. Finally, you are about to tackle the big question of which shipping service provider is the right one for your brand. More and more end customers attach importance to environmentally conscious shipping and returns shipping options. In addition, you are also looking to become more sustainable yourself and support projects that positively counteract climate change. Accordingly, you are searching for a shipping service provider that supports your intentions. In fact, parcel shipping emits more and more CO2. Online trade is booming like never before. It is estimated that the shipping service sector causes about 20% of our emissions.
In the meantime, it is very difficult to keep track of shipping service providers, in which aspects they are sustainable, and which advantages they bring along for your company and your clientele. To support you in your search, we have listed the points you should look out for when looking for sustainable shipping service providers. We’ll also give you a brief introduction to some of them so you can get a first impression.
One of the most important terms, which is also the most widespread, is the so-called “last mile”. The last mile is the final distance to be covered when shipping your goods, i.e. from the storage depot of the shipping service provider to the end customer. In fact, the last mile of shipping is where most CO2 emissions are produced. Due to frequent starts, short stops where the engine is left running, and slow city traffic, more pollutants per package are emitted here than on the rest of the shipping route. To counteract this problem, more and more shipping service providers are working towards emission-free shipping in city centers. So-called microdepots/microhubs are being opened, from which cargo bikes or trikes then deliver the parcels. Freight bikes and trikes can be operated with electricity and muscle power and are therefore emission-free when using renewable energy sources! In addition, these vehicles are also practical for relieving road traffic, as they are only allowed to be driven on bicycle paths. The prerequisite for this is, of course, that the infrastructure for this is well-developed. They are also good for reducing noise for residents to a minimum.
Other terms that might be relevant to you are CO2 reduction and CO2 compensation. There is a big difference between reducing and offsetting. CO2 compensation means that the company only invests in climate projects retrospectively, and the emissions have already been caused and are having an effect. It is merely an attempt to compensate for the climate-damaging effect. For example, investments are made in the cultivation of new forest landscapes, but trees need time to grow and be able to absorb CO2 again. In principle, it is very positive to support climate projects because it helps to regenerate our planet in the long term. Nevertheless, a shipping service provider should focus on both. After all, CO2 reduction shows a direct change, and no emissions and damage are caused in the first place! For every package that is delivered emission-free, we come closer to our climate goals and counteract global warming.
DHL is the largest shipping service provider in the world. Every parcel sent within the country is climate neutral. This is also possible in the EU and worldwide for a small surcharge. DHL pursues a dual strategy for its sustainability. They reduce and offset at the same time. Climate-damaging emissions are reduced during transport by increasing the use of e-bikes, e-trikes, e-Ivecos, and their self-developed electric Streetscooters. In addition, a transfer to trains is being implemented for the long-distance transport of parcels. At the moment, airplanes and trucks are still primarily used, which is where the CO2 reduction comes in. For the harmful greenhouse gases that are still unavoidable for the moment, Deutsche Post AG invests in certified climate protection projects. In addition, there is also the option of ordering one’s parcel to a Packstation, where the delivery person saves the additional journey to the customer and therefore also the resulting greenhouse gases.
DHL has taken another step towards climate protection by constructing new depots and new buildings in general. Every building that is newly constructed becomes 100% environmentally friendly. The construction method has been optimized, building automation has been integrated, and a photovoltaic system is being used. Older, already constructed buildings, on the other hand, are operated with 95% green electricity.
DPD is also a good example of the dual strategy, whereby reduction is given greater priority than compensation at DPD. DPD actively promotes emission-free shipping in large cities. They are setting up micro-depots with cargo bikes, gradually phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles, using e-transporters for this purpose, and setting up DPD stores. The new DPD stores serve as a parcel shop (equivalent to a DHL Packstation); unlike other parcel shops, end consumers can unpack the goods here and try them on if necessary (changing rooms are available). In addition, cardboard packaging can be left on site as it will be used for another customer’s return (or your own if you don’t like the item). Last but not least, it also serves as a micro depot for cargo bikes. To compensate, DPD is committed to social projects, and even employees sometimes donate portions of their salary.
The only disadvantage, which unfortunately is a hurdle for DPD’s sustainability, is the subcontractors or courier services that are hired. Usually, smaller companies pay less attention to sustainability because it is too price-intensive. But measures are being undertaken to ensure that subcontractors are gradually provided with DPD vehicles.
FedEx operates according to a 3-pillar initiative for sustainability. The first pillar is called "innovative operations" and focuses on reducing emissions and waste. Outdated technologies are replaced by new ones, encompassing mainly vehicles, revolutionizing packaging, and FedEx facilities. The second pillar focuses on driving development and research efforts. FedEx invested 100 million US dollars in the "Yale Center for Carbon Capture," which focuses on climate change, biodiversity loss, and the health of our planet. FedEx also works with BrightDrop to implement delivery using electric vehicles. BrightDrop is an American manufacturer of General Motors, which specializes in the production of delivery vehicles with electric drives. The last pillar aims to bring sustainability closer to the customers as well. Online resources are available where anyone can find inspiration on how to act more sustainably, whether for the workplace or for home, and save money at the same time.
Liefergrün is a young start-up that was founded in 2020, focusing on the last mile. While they are a very young company, they are also very progressive. For one, they offer next-day delivery, which has been proven to increase your business repurchase rate by around 25% and increase the value of your basket by around 15%. They operate pick-up and delivery exclusively with electric vans and cargo bikes. Most of the time, deliveries are picked up by vans in the stores or from the logistics provider and brought to the microhubs. From there, the goods are transported to the consumers on bicycles. In addition, returns are picked up free of charge, which means that the end customer does not have to make the extra trip to the parcel shop. According to their estimation, you can save up to 50% of your CO2 footprint through Liefergrün.
Liefergrün is a location-based company and thus skips long-distance transport and stops at any distribution centers. They now operate in over 40 cities nationwide.
Of course, we have not listed all logistics service providers here, and this blog entry is also intended to serve as a little inspiration for you. It is important that you or your fulfillment partner, who hopefully also does CO2 reduction or compensation, does their in-depth research and finds the optimal company for you.
At MOODJA, we are committed to sustainable logistics solutions and also work with many sustainable logistics providers. We always make sure to cooperate with shipping service providers who also actively support our sustainability goals and values. As your fulfillment partner, we are happy to advise you on which service provider supports sustainable projects, who optimizes the last mile best, and who is closest to zero-emission delivery. Together, we support sustainability and optimize processes for the benefit of our environment.