12/06/20236 min

Will 2023 be the year sustainable shipping overtakes express shipping? 

Julie van Overvest
De Julie van Overvest
CSR Project manager, Spring

Living in a society of instant gratification, consumers expect to receive orders as soon as possible and preferably faster. But what about the environmental impact. Are express deliveries harming the planet? A deep dive into the benefits of sustainable logistics, looking into the current preferences of online shoppers and eco-friendly solutions for international shipments.  

Aren’t we already heading towards a more sustainable world?  

Not at first glance, according to the e-Shopper Barometer study, which analyzes online purchases in 21 European countries, 10% of all purchases made in Europe are made online. And, with this number constantly growing, more packages must be delivered to the buyer, which results in higher delivery traffic and emissions. 

On the other hand, the number of online consumers looking for sustainable options is increasing. Which is why it is essential that logistics companies invest more in green options. There are a few, and some of them stand out. 

Failed attempts and delivery points 

As detailed by the consulting firm Deloitte, 86% of the total deliveries are being requested at home by buyers. One of the main logistical challenges for companies that are operating in large cities is to reduce failed deliveries.  

To increase that success rate, more delivery companies are using parcel delivery points. The parcels will be delivered to a delivery point close to the customer’s home. These locations are open most of the day, providing the customer with a large time window to pick up their parcel. Considering a second ride is not necessary and the customer can preferably walk or bike to the delivery point, these delivery points can reduce CO2 per package by up to 20% and the cost of delivery by 9%. How to implement this option in your web shop? Most of the shipping partners are offering this sustainable option, simply add the pick up option in the check out for your consumers.  

Slower delivery: less express and more sustainable 

The uncontrolled increase in CO2 emissions generated by online deliveries is opening the door to more sustainable deliveries that do not depend solely on speed: changing speed for effectiveness. 

Antonio Iglesias, an expert in logistics and supply chain and professor at ESIC, details, in a statement collected by the Spanish newspaper El País, that slow delivery "is a very strong trend and that it will continue to gain traction, no matter how much the expectations of a part of the clients push in the opposite direction”. And he adds that "urgent or even immediate delivery, in two, four or 24 hours, is an unsustainable logic both from the point of view of cost optimization and emission control". 

Iglesias assures that "slow delivery will end up being integrated as one more element in last-mile logistics that must take many factors into account, from automation and technological innovation to new urban mobility models and the need to train specialized staff that, today, is scarce. Users are going to have to get used to, perhaps, paying a little more to enjoy a more efficient service, better but not necessarily faster”. 

Efficiency to a higher level 

What does not impact the delivery time is another notable example of sustainable logistics, the implementation of recyclable pallet boxes in the transportation network. The pallet box is a strong, collapsible storage box constructed entirely of recyclable materials. Compared to standard single-use materials like wooden pallets and carton wrappings, each unit's lifespan is typically between 7 and 10 years, and it delivers goods more safely and ergonomically. Every pallet box is returned to the source after being retired from use, making this product entirely circular.  

Using recyclable pallet boxes instead of carton wrappings or wooden pallets can help save emissions. 66 pallet boxes can fit into each truck, as opposed to 33 similar-sized carton wrappings on wooden pallets. As a result, load capacity increases as there are fewer trucks on the road.  

These reusable pallet boxes are introduced in the postal and e-commerce network by Spring Global Delivery Solutions together with network partners in The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.   

The importance of a suitable partner 

Looking for a reliable and sustainable international shipping partner? The right partner will be able to bolster your credibility in sustainability efforts as a company. Exactly what the e-commerce customer is shifting towards in shopping online.  

Enter, Spring GDS. This forward-thinking company not only takes responsibility for compensating every shipment handled within its extensive network but also diligently monitors CO2 emissions. By doing so, they can identify optimized routes that effectively reduce these environmental figures. 

And the best part? Going green with Spring GDS doesn't mean compromising on delivery speed. 

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