Sustainable Zero-Emission Logistics
1 July 2021

As population, urbanisation and e-commerce all continue to grow, the number of commercial vans and trucks on the roads is increasing rapidly. The segment’s contribution to overall transport emissions is, therefore, an important consideration in the shift towards greener transport. As a global logistics organisation operating a large ground fleet of over 120,000 vehicles worldwide, UPS’ primary focus is on reducing emissions (both greenhouse gas and air quality) and congestion by rolling out a number of sustainable solutions across the globe.

Fleet electrification

UPS’s zero-carbon efforts have meant creating systems, devices, and solutions that previously did not exist. In the absence of any electric vehicle capable of replacing a diesel van, UPS went ahead and developed one – in partnership with Arrival – and is now working to roll out 10,000 over the next few years. In the meantime, UPS has deployed diesel-electric conversions and hybrids that have replaced nearly 1000 diesel package cars. In addition, the company recognised that many legacy buildings and facilities throughout the world did not have the capacity to facilitate an electric fleet. Therefore, to power these cutting-edge electric and electric-conversion machines, UPS developed and deployed the world’s first fleet scale smart-grid energy storage solutions to overcome power grid constraints. These innovations will allow electric logistic vehicles to be rolled out, even in regions where the electricity grid could not originally support them.  The initiative has been successfully implemented in London, with a view to be rolled out across Europe, benefitting the company’s existing electric fleets in cities such as Hamburg, and facilitating new electric fleets in the years to come.

‘Last Mile’ carbon-free logistics

To meet ambitious sustainability goals, address growing emissions concerns and minimise traffic congestion, European cities need innovative infrastructure and transportation solutions and, in all these regards, UPS has risen to this challenge. Through projects such as City2Share, the company has deployed multiple carbon-free urban vehicles. These vehicles range from retrofitted electric and hybrids trucks to specialist e-cycles. Together, they are implemented to eradicate emissions in the ‘last mile’ of delivery in over 30 cities across Europe, including Munich, Mannheim, Hamburg, Aachen, Dublin, Milan, Bologna, Verona and Rome. Particularly innovative in this regard is UPS’ cycle logistics network, operating in the cities named above, which has revolutionised inner-city deliveries to be zero-carbon, citizen friendly and congestion safe. The first cycle project, deployed in Hamburg in 2012, was so successful that today, e-cycles have replaced virtually every UPS diesel vehicle in the downtown area. This success is now being repeated in cities across Europe.

The impact of UPS sustainable innovations

The impact of UPS’ sustainability initiatives, from its work at the forefront of electric logistics vehicles to its Smart-Grid programmes and the development of cycle logistics, is substantial. For every kilometre travelled by each of the company’s retrofitted pure electric vehicles, 416 g of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are eradicated. In Munich, the addition of cycle logistics in 2019 saved over 155 tons of CO2 and 1,763 tons of nitrous oxide, with similar results expected in cities across Europe. To underscore these technological developments, UPS has pledged to achieve full carbon neutrality in its global operations by 2050, with a goal to reduce the CO2 output per small package by 50% by 2035. The company can scale up these solutions, ensuring widespread adoption of sustainable mobility within the Union.

UPS and the EU Green Deal goals

To aid in this goal, UPS suggests that the EU recovery fund is channelled towards subsidising these technologies, thus incentivising their adoption across the Union. Additionally, by providing funding through competitions, the recovery fund has the potential to kick-start a widespread zero-carbon mobility roll-out throughout the EU.

More information:

The Green Way
Sustainable mobility
Story contributor
Key numbers
Number of electric vans to be rolled out
Reduction in CO2 per small package delivered