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Delivery companies trial bikes and electric vehicles to solve pollution problem

Sainsbury's bike delivery

Home deliveries could be in danger of losing their reputation as the greenest way to shop, according to a new report.

The study by delivery price comparison site ParcelHero questioned the implications of a previous study in 2009 which found that home deliveries produced significantly less CO2 than shopping by car. The 2009 report had found that a customer shopping by car would have to buy 24 non-food items to reduce their equivalent emissions to those of a home delivery.

However, the new report highlighted nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as a key challenge that was gaining prominence. Home deliveries primarily rely on diesel cars, which emit higher levels of NOx.

The report said that NOx had harmful effects, with high levels causing inflammation of the airways.

Despite these problems the report indicated that a number of delivery companies were taking major steps to reduce NOx.

One area being explored was bicycles, with DHL making use of cargo bicycles and Zedify supply pedal-powered bike and trike delivery services for many local retailers. The report also noted that Sainsbury’s is trialling a fleet of electric grocery delivery bikes in London and that the government had pledged £2 million in funding for e-cargo bicycle grants.

The study also found that Hermes and DHL were exploring the use of electric vans, with DHL not only building its own vans but also supplying them to other companies. Royal Mail and UPS were also experimenting with the technology.

At the most futuristic end of the scale, technologies such as robotic deliveries were emerging as possible solutions to the pollution issue. The report highlighted how Starship Technologies is trialling robot vehicles in Greenwich and with the Co-op in Milton Keynes.

Commenting on the report, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research David Jinks, said: “Whatever their final evolution, our study finds home deliveries will continue to be a greener option than traditional shopping trips in the family car, as technology evolves and delivery choices grow ever wider.”

Image credit: Sainsbury’s

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