Redesigning distribution logistics and introducing cleaner fleets would cut emissions in half

The combination of natural gas and electric vehicles with non-powered vehicles and the reorganization of logistics and urban mobility to adapt it to the needs generated by e-commerce could reduce business costs by up to 46%, greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and emissions that have an impact on people's health by up to 96%.

These are the conclusions of the study "Sustainable urban distribution of freight. For economic, environmental and social improvement", carried out by the UPF Barcelona School of Management, which was presented this afternoon at the headquarters of the Naturgy Foundation in Madrid. "Society is undergoing a transformation in consumer habits and with e-commerce, driving the growth of last mile distribution in cities," reflected Manuel Calvo, head of energy and environment at the Naturgy Foundation.

Public-private collaboration is key to sustainable distribution solutions

After presenting the main results of the investigation, Erola Palau Pinyana, researcher at the UPF-BSM Sustainability Observatory and co-author of the study, emphasized that "it is necessary to jointly address the logistical, technical and urban dimensions of last-mile urban distribution of freight in order to find solutions that balance economic, environmental and social sustainability".

En este sentido, Palau Pinyana ha insistido en que "colaboración público-privada es fundamental para las soluciones de distribución sostenible en el ámbito urbanístico", ya que, ha añadido, "los vehículos con combustibles alternativos requieren de nuevas infraestructuras de recarga". In this sense, Palau Pinyana insisted that "public-private collaboration is fundamental for sustainable distribution solutions in the urban environment", since, she added, "alternative fuel vehicles require new recharging infrastructures". The Director General of Land Transport of the Government of Spain, Jaime Alberto Moreno García, agreed, stating that "cities are subject to a complexity of management and transport that implies a regulatory and technical challenge for vehicles".

The future of the current logistics model

"The study does not generate new knowledge, but is based on best practices," warned Oriol Montanyà, director of the Sustainability Observatory and co-author of the study, who after attending the presentation of results moderated a panel discussion with representatives of the main branches of the logistics sector.

"Is the current logistics model solved or does it need to be overhauled," said Montanyà. Ana Tristán, Service Fulfillment Operations Country Manager at IKEA, answered the question and pointed out that "the model is challenging". "Retailers are trying to be more and more agile," she guaranteed.

The market is changing and there is a lot of uncertainty

"Tenemos la responsabilidad de hacer algo y desde IKEA hemos establecido objetivos: 2025, 100% de entregas con vehículos de 0% emisiones", ha anunciado Tristán."Logistics companies have been reducing their impact for some time," said Francisco Javier Bueno, head of Naturgy's Mobility project, who shared an interesting fact: "operators currently have 30% of their vehicles hybrid; 30% electronic and 40% natural gas".

In this regard, the head of CSR at SEUR, Julie-Marie Urban, explained that the parcel operator is working to achieve "intelligent urban delivery". "In urgent urban delivery, all the vehicles run on compressed natural gas fuel to compensate for the immediacy", she exemplified. However, the other side of the coin was shown by Tristán, who regretted that "you never get to see the profitability of the vehicles". "The market is changing a lot and there is a lot of uncertainty," she said.

The sustainability of the planet is a global project and must be in all entities.

In terms of change, although from the urban dimension, the Director General of Land Transport has pointed out the regulation as a "key aspect". "Something as simple as a change in the municipal ordinance that enables a loading and unloading zone in certain urban spaces is fundamental," he said.

In any case, as concluded the Director General of the UPF-BSM, José M. Martínez-Sierra, the sustainability of the planet is a "global project and must be in all entities". That is why public-private collaboration is key to making some of the proposals discussed during the session a reality. "We are committed to continue working from the world of business and knowledge to provide an outlet for them".