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Global Sustainability Symposium 2018


Global Sustainability Symposium 2018

Ian Kerr

"Driving Sustainability through Leadership – in the postal and logistics sector" was the theme for this year's Global Sustainability Forum hosted by Swiss Post in Bern. Here are some highlights.

Beyond the delivery vehicle

When it comes to reducing emissions, much of the focus has been on the delivery vehicle. Swiss Post allows many of its office staff to work from home four days per month, resulting in an estimated 200,000 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions per year. This is also taking passenger cars off the road, with an estimated saving of 1.6m passenger kilometres a year.


Responsible procurement is a growing trend in the postal world. Suppliers are being held to higher standards, including meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals. Standards are being set via tender processes at a number of posts.

Questions remain about how to implement responsible procurement for suppliers of varying sizes. Should posts be demanding single-person delivery contractors prove that they are complying with various international human and labour rights conventions?

Zero emissions

Deutsche Post DHL has famously set a goal of zero emissions by 2050. There are other targets to be met before 2050.

DPDHL has set four strategic targets for 2025:

  1. 70% of first and last mile services using "clean" pick-up and delivery;
  2. Increase carbon efficiency by 50% compared to 2007;
  3. Incorporate green solutions into over 50% of sales; and
  4. Train 80% of staff to be certified "GoGreen" specialists

The global giant is striving to set the benchmark for a responsible business.

Sustainable development

The Chinese e-commerce market is growing at an unfathomable rate: from 160m online shoppers in 2010 to 530m online shoppers in 2017.

Behind this mind-boggling figure is the development of e-commerce in rural China. E-commerce is stimulating entrepreneurship and employment, helping to narrow the urban/rural divide. The China State Post Bureau reported that by 2020, online trade in rural China is expected to reach 2 trillion Yuan (EUR 250 billion), producing 10-13 billion parcels per year.

The postal sector has a big role to play

With over 670,000 post offices and sorting centres, along with over 1 million vehicles, the postal sector has a significant impact on delivering services to people all over world.

The IPC and UPU are both gathering and analysing data on posts' efforts to reduce their environmental impact. This comes as parcel volumes continue to increase. How can more parcels be delivered without increasing the use of fossil fuels and the resultant emissions?

The effectiveness of electric vehicles is still being measured. Data regarding total cost of ownership can be hard to reconcile, with different accounting standards being applied in various jurisdictions. Posts including Deutsche Post and Swiss Post have committed heavily to electric vehicles.

What's next?

Posts will continue to try to squeeze more efficiencies out of their existing delivery fleets, while casting about for alternative-fuelled options (including bicycles where appropriate).

Procurement will be placed under greater scrutiny, both from an environmental perspective and a social responsibility perspective.

E-commerce customers will become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of online shopping, and will demand greener delivery options. But will they be prepared to pay for it?

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