Urban logistics will be sustainable or it will be impossible

One of the main consequences of the increase of E-Commerce and deliveries in such a short period of time is their environmental impact on cities. The challenges that we all face as last mile logistic workers are not only to find solutions that make deliveries less complex and less expensive, but also to find the right answer from an environmental point of view.


The official statistical service of the European Union highlights that CO2 emissions contribute significantly to global warming and represents around 80% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and it must be taken into account that urban logistics is responsible for a significant percentage of those CO2 emissions.


Is sustainable urban logistics compatible with the boom of E-Commerce? The Answer is YES, it is. Urban logistics can and must be sustainable.


In order to get a more sustainable and efficient urban logistics system, it is important to adopt a proactive attitude to the challenge of reducing the impact of logistics, comply with current environmental legislation and to find new solutions that promote the efficiency of operations from an environmental point of view.


The cellular model of Nektria: an eco-friendly model.


At Nektria, in addition to the use of dynamic delivery pricing, where the most incentive bands have the lowest environment impact (ECO bands), we bet on a new and disruptive distribution model in which the deliveries are made thanks to teamwork comprised of different types of vehicles. In the cellular model each delivery truck travels accompanied by two or three smaller and more agile vehicles, such as scooters. The truck´s co-workers are waiting ahead of the point of delivery and are the ones responsible for making the delivery to the consumer, while the truck stops for just a few minutes to unload, and then moves on to the next delivery point.


The trucks are running for less time, and due to this they are contaminating less while reducing the environmental impact. Additionally, the vehicles supporting the delivery trucks can be 100% sustainable by utilizing electric bikes, bicycles, pedicabs etc.


Nevertheless, in traditional deliveries, the trucks are only running for 30% of the time while the other 70% of the time is spent looking for parking and being stopped while the delivery is in progress. But “being parked” does not mean it does not pollute, in fact maintaining the refrigerators and freezers while standing is what consumes the most by far. Additionally, in the traditional model the trucks are not at their maximum capacity, but more like half, because in a normal distribution they can only reach between 16 and 20 orders per day (an average of 3 orders per hour).


With Nektria´s cellular model, CO2 emissions are reduced by up to 65%.


With cellular distribution, their capacity is increased to 42 orders in 3.5 hours (an average of 12 orders per hour) and the trucks work at maximum capacity, so they are not transporting air. Due to this, the production and efficiency increase exponentially and, if the supporting vehicles are electric, then the trucks are the only cause of CO2 emissions, thereby managing to reduce the environmental impact.


For example, let´s say that you have to distribute 250 supermarket orders in a city. In the traditional model, the retailer would hire 16 trucks and each of them would be working 7 hours making deliveries. That means a total of 112 hours of emissions. However, using the cellular model, only 7 trucks are needed and they would be working a total of 40 hours to carry out the same distribution. That means a reduction of CO2 emissions by 65%.


Environmental awareness means to have respect for the customer and for oneself. At Nektria that is one of our biggest priorities.