The dilemma between consumption and sustainability is on the table, and in the logistics sector the actors involved are clear: suppliers, carriers, logistics operators, distributors and parcel services… Plus public authorities, big business and retailers. And of course, consumers: perhaps the essential part of this ecosystem.
Talking of the last mile, it seems that “consumers are demanding a more sustainable delivery method from companies”, according to UPS Spain, as we read in El Mercantil (June, 2022). Consume less? No way… Rather, reward companies that know how to measure up. How do we achieve this?
These are by no means minor challenges.
The complexity of the global supply chain, the demographic and urban structure, consumption patterns, new criteria, and measures to reduce our environmental impact (in Spain, 149 Low Emission Zones in cities with under 50,000 inhabitants for 2023) … This starting point does not make it easy for us.
If we narrow our focus in order to simplify the matter, we can identify three large areas that require improvement.
- On the one hand, the number of kilometres travelled by merchandise needs to be reduced. This entails less energy consumption, less GHG emissions and indirectly less congestion on transport routes (and logistics centres, ports, etc.).
- On the other hand, the completely dystopian policies of express delivery, free returns and similar need to be changed. Some educating is required in order to correct this false illusion that approaches like “the sooner, the better” and “if I don’t like it, I’ll just return it” do not have an associated environmental cost.
- And to conclude, consumers absolutely must rationalise their consumption. To get an idea, in the USA, in 2019, one in eight citizens receive an online purchase at home every day. Extrapolating, this means 15,000 million parcels per year, and it is estimated that this will double in 2023…
We are on the right track
There are already some good practices underway that are starting to take shape or root. A relatively simple and inexpensive measure that can solve the problem or at least alleviate some Urban Goods Distribution channels (department stores, super brands, and H&R to some extent) by avoiding the hours of heavy traffic would be night-time delivery.
A more efficient way is what many companies are now doing: lightening and electrifying its fleet of vehicles. This is at times an expensive solution, but one that is better adapted to diversity and the complexity of current urban demand and with a clear and positive environmental impact.
Another of the solutions (and perhaps the most creative), which is already being applied, are the urban consolidation hubs (for distributors) and convenience points (for consumers), whether lockers or pick-up stores: what has been called “proximity logistics”.
Sustainability according to Tempack
For our part (and it’s a big part: we are the last link in the supply chain, the one that reaches the end customer’s door), we are perfectly aware that we must all contribute to bring about a change in direction once and for all.
In cold logistics, the proper preservation of perishable products is essential to avoid spoilage and its trail of waste, returns and dissatisfaction. Our highly efficient isothermal packaging guarantees a constantly adequate temperature range (for transits up to 48-72 hours), no break in the cold chain and no active energy consumption.
With materials, we also do our bit, using recycled PET plastic or regenerated textile material in some of our packaging, with an emphasis on robust and easily removable re-usable options. So, whether you use them to modulate your vehicle or opt for personalized insulated packaging solutions, you know you are responding to the demand for sustainability efficiently and competitively.