The demand for sustainability is a trend that has become increasingly prominent on a global level in recent years, with terms such as “eco-friendly” being used more frequently by businesses and the public alike. And with the revelation that around 40,000 deaths in the UK are linked to exposure to air pollution annually, we all know that it’s no longer enough for companies to just talk about sustainability; they must act now or risk damaging both their reputation and revenue.
However, while we’re all trying to reduce our impact on the world, the latest data released by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy revealed that an increase in certain habits is having an adverse effect on the environment. Specifically, while there have been improvements in the fuel efficiency of cars, this has been offset by an increase in emissions from transport, with UK’s transport sector accounting for 27% of UK emissions in 2017.
At CitySprint we understand that, due to the nature of our work, the logistics industry has an active role to play in lowering emissions. With new government schemes like ULEZ coming into force in London in two months, and several other UK cities introducing Clean Air Zones (CAZ) by 2020, many commercial vehicles travelling into these zones will need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards.
Logistics businesses need to take a long-term view of how they operate in urban areas, investing in eco-friendly vehicles, but also technology that improves efficiency, reduces wasted journeys, and allocates the right vehicles in low-emission zones. Where fleets are concerned, they must plan for a move away from diesel and petrol and add more alternative vehicles to their fleets. It’s paramount that they don’t put limits on the type of sustainable vehicles they use, but instead look at the wider picture and the benefits of each, from cargo bikes and electric vehicles to hydrogen vans, which while still in their infancy, have great potential, as they can travel up to twice the distance of electric vans.
But it’s not just up to logistics companies to take action.
While I welcome recent government announcements like the publication of the Road to Zero strategy in July last year and their pledge of £106m for research and development in zero-emission vehicles, new batteries and low carbon technology, much more needs to be done to support businesses.
When it comes to electric vehicles, high purchase price and inadequate charging facilities, currently only 19,000 across the UK are preventing large-scale adoption. And while the increase of electric vehicles on our roads is great to see, replacing fleets with more eco-friendly vehicles needs to make business sense. It’s imperative that manufacturers of green vehicles work closely with experts within the logistics industry to further improve them, particularly on aspects such as range, a key consideration for deliveries.
In the coming year, green issues are set to rise the industry agenda as consumers and regulators start to examine environmental issues more closely. And while investment in infrastructure is crucial, we also need to see the launch of more governmental policies with broader scopes to build collective responsibility for reducing pollution, as opposed to simply relying on individuals and businesses to bear the cost.
With air quality and climate change dominating headlines and public opinion, sustainability is no longer merely optional. Now is the time to act.