In a world where e-commerce is ever growing, the sustainability of current logistics systems must be revised. City centers are increasingly suffering from traffic congestion and air pollution, largely due to a significant increase in the number of delivery vehicles, their emissions and parallel parking. Therefore, it is necessary to establish clear lines of action to build a more sustainable future.
According to data from the World Economic Forum (2020), the number of delivery vehicles in the 100 largest cities in the world will increase by 36% until 2030. Consequently, the emissions generated in the delivery will grow by 32%, to more than 6 million additional tonnes of CO2, and congestion will rise by more than 21%, which translates into an additional 11 minutes of traffic jam per passenger per day. In addition, the demand for last-mile services has exploded and is expected to grow by more than 78% by 2030. Also, same-day and instant deliveryspecifically, they are the fastest growing segments within the last mile sector: 36% and 17% annually. Since this growth will occur mainly in the big cities, we must consider new approaches regarding last-mile.
The solution to the problem has two separate approaches:
We must bet on the pragmatic use of information. This will not only allow us to quantify the impact a posteriori, but also allows us to identify which policies and actions have a greater positive impact and offer us a greater capacity to explain the success or failure of the implemented strategies. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to develop analytical capacity - both in the public and private sectors - in order to be able to accelerate solutions in real time and ex ante (such as, for example, intelligent route planning, more flexible rates or real-time information on environmental impact). Therefore, sustainability software solutions are a fundamental pillar of this change towards an economically and ecologically sustainable last-mile system. Such software not only allows knowing the environmental impact of the activity of companies: in a (near) future dominated by artificial intelligences and the optimization of resources and processes thanks to the IoT and the interconnectivity of all kinds of gadgets and devices, the crossing of such information between public and private agents can contribute to order the flow of traffic, emissions and analyze the impact of interventions and regulations from an insider perspective y holística no habida hasta ahora.
Rethinking the current last mile system:
Sustainable delivery system using the Nozama platform
Aside from wondering how technology can help us sustain the delivery system, we can also rethink the system itself. Is it sustainable to concentrate deliveries on the daytime slot, when more cars and public transport vehicles are in circulation? Does it make sense, from an ecological point of view, to make same-day deliveries, even if the truck or van is at half capacity? The World Economic Forum proposes to bet on electric fleets, distribution at night, the creation of express lanes in the streets and the inclusion of information in the optimization of resources, together with the creation of multibrand locker systems -e.g. Amazon LockerThus, the transition to a sustainable shipping model goes through public-private and multi-level collaboration, where different actors from all sectors collaborate and make their contribution. Ultimately, we should not only ask ourselves what is the best type of vehicle when shipping, but we must also get a sustainable delivery system based on the study and improvement of the process to follow, in order to optimize and understand them from within in order to achieve the best outcomes (that is, they are sustainable both ecologically and economically).
Current data show us an unsustainable reality that we must tackle soon in order to make our consumption compatible with the ecological capacities and needs of the urban ecosystem. Specifically in the case of last mile shipments, it should be said that the necessary conversion to sustainability goes through the practical application of the information and aggregated data, which will allow to optimize processes and account for the improvement, and the updating and adaptation of vehicle fleets to minimize the emission of polluting particles and the saturation of the streets. Although there is no single magic solution that can solve the problem overnight, we ought to work towards developing a sustainable delivery system that meets the needs of the new reality of commerce and society of the 21st century.