Greener Deliveries: The Future Of Courier Services In The Age Of The Environment

Alex Belsey

In the last decade, online shopping has become the norm as more and more people take advantage of next day delivery and international shipping options from the comfort of their own home.

Gone are the days where your parents had to scour the shops searching for the one Christmas present you really wanted. Nowadays, everything we could possibly want or need is just a finger click away. Products from other countries and cultures that before were only available if you went on holiday, are now being shipped all over the world.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever started shopping online. But alongside this increase, there has also been a rising awareness of our ecological crisis. And with the COP26 taking place earlier this year, we are more aware than ever of the impact we are having on our planet.

So what can we do to reduce our environmental impact whilst catering to our consumer needs?

Do We REALLY Need It?

It is so easy now to click a button and have a whole load of ‘stuff’ arrive at our door. But how many of us have felt the need to impulse buy and wish we hadn’t? During COVID-19, impulse purchases increased dramatically, with many of us regretting our purchases almost immediately.

Before you click ‘Buy Now’, ask yourself, do you really need it? If you don’t – or if you can find the item at your local shop - avoid buying online.

Reduce Plastics

It is a known fact that plastic is not sustainable and has a massive ecological impact. The majority of packages and parcels are sent in plastic packaging, which - despite our best efforts - are not always recycled as they should be. Make a conscious effort to use ecologically-friendly packaging options such as cardboard or paper instead.

What Courier Companies Can Do To Help

It is not just us as senders that could make changes in our habits. For every purchase made online, there is a chain of couriers that get it to you.

Courier services saw a rapid increase in workload during and after the pandemic which has now become the norm. So how can courier companies help to reduce their carbon footprint?

- Multi Drop Deliveries

Making a journey to cover as many drops as possible in one round - whilst planning the most ecological route - decreases not only the amount of fuel consumed, but also the time it takes to complete. Designing the most efficient route before leaving your depo can allow you to park your vehicle and deliver to an entire street on foot.

- Going Electric

Electric cars are the way forward in terms of ecological benefits. With technological advances dominating the car industry, we should start to see the same dedication in our work vehicles - including the courier services.

At the time of writing, the electric cars with the longest range can go up to 620 miles before needing to be recharged. With an 11-hour delivery shift averaging at 605 miles, having a fleet of all electric vans may soon become a possibility.

- Electric Scooters

Electric scooters could be the way forward for small goods couriers. Using a delivery bag, delivery drivers can make their drops smoothly and cost-effectively.

A fully charged scooter can travel up to 45km, but this can be assisted by installing more charging points throughout your area. Thankfully, councils up and down the UK are now increasing the number of available power points.

The use of electric scooters can also reduce delivery fees, as they have a low maintenance rate.

- Bicycle Deliveries

The best option in terms of reducing your carbon footprint completely is to convert to bicycle deliveries where possible. Obviously, this is unrealistic for packages and parcels, but for letters and small packages, setting up a team with bicycles will almost entirely reduce your company's carbon footprint when making deliveries.

- Drop Off/Collection Points

Instead of delivering to multiple houses and locations, create optional pick-up points located at strategic and convenient places in your area. This will then allow for your delivery drivers to make one large drop, reducing fuel emissions. Customers can then pick up their parcels themselves.

Delivering A Greener Service

While we have all benefitted from the growth in convenient online ordering options over recent years, they are not without their consequences.

As we move towards a time of greater environmental awareness and activism, it is important that we as consumers – and the courier companies who service us – all do our bit to help protect the planet.

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I am a B2B magazine editor with an interest in politics, business, economics, sport, technology, and more. I produce articles that touch upon business, politics, marketing, and the point where these areas intersect with each other.

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