They clog the streets and often fill up with diesel: parcel services are criticized for their carbon footprint. Packaging stations are intended to save CO2. But does the calculation work?
Swiss Post is investing to become more environmentally friendly – and probably also to save costs. There will soon be 15,000 instead of the current 12,000 packaging stations and 1,000 instead of the current 100 mail stations across the country.
“This means we can make offers to our customers where they can access the package 24/7,” said Thomas Kutsch, spokesman for Deutsche Post AG. Kutsch also promises that the branch network will not be further reduced.
Packing stations save travel distances
According to Deutsche Post, the packaging stations aim to have a positive effect on the climate: “Climate protection also plays a big role because we save a third of the CO2 compared to classic door-to-door delivery. We can deliver up to 100 packages in the machine on one trip.”
At Hermes, collection solutions will also play a more important role in the future, explains spokeswoman Julia Kühnemuth: “By delivering to parcel stores, more parcels can be delivered with significantly fewer trips.” Traffic and emissions in the so-called “last mile” would be reduced. “Delivery collected at a Hermes ParcelShop causes, on average, 25% less CO2 than delivery to a private door.”
Real climate protection or sugar coating?
Kathrin Zabel, managing director of the association PropaketBox, does not believe that the systems of industry giants really save so much CO2: “This is only true for their own climate footprint, because delivery vehicles no longer need to go to every home. a crucial aspect is that it is kept secret: customers have to drive to the station and pick up the package, which creates additional traffic.”
Research shows that a home delivery actually produces less CO2 than driving many private cars to the station. This is due to better use of vehicles by delivery services and more efficient route design.
Free parcel box from supplier as an alternative
Zabel’s association is promoting a different solution: the so-called provider-free parcel box, to which all service providers have access. The system is located like a mailbox directly at the customer’s home, and every delivery service can place their packages there, which means that every customer is always accessible – there is no need for repeated delivery attempts.
According to the association, these parcel boxes currently have more than 400,000 compartments across the country, which are used by around 1.8 million people. “This saves about a minute of time per package. Extrapolated, this means we need 2,000 fewer deliveries every day across the country, which means there are 2,000 fewer vehicles on the road spreading their exhaust gases,” he calculates. Zabel.
Integrate trams and cargo bikes?
Help is urgently needed because the number of orders in Germany is increasing dramatically. While just under 2.8 billion packages were delivered in 2014, forecasts predict there will be nine billion by 2028. For delivery services, the issue of environmentally friendly delivery to customers will increasingly become more pressing in the coming years.
For this reason, the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences is investigating solutions: “For example, we are investigating how we can also integrate the tram system,” says scientist Dennis Knese. “Orders are transported from the warehouse on the outskirts of the city by train to the center, where they are transferred to a cargo bike and then transported to the end customer.” According to researchers, this can reduce CO2 emissions by around 57% compared to conventional delivery.
“In the end, it’s usually just a matter of cost”
However, the University of Applied Sciences model would mean an increase in staff and therefore costs for parcel service providers. Also for this reason, according to Knese, development is progressing slowly: “All companies are open to innovation and very interested. Of course, the question is always: what about the money?”, says the specialist in sustainable mobility. “All companies are currently under pressure to act, they all have their sustainability goals, they have to become greener, they have to become more climate-friendly, but in the end, generally, what matters are only the costs when It’s about implementation.”
And because of them, many good ideas fail. Therefore, there is still a long way to go before package delivery is climate-friendly. According to experts, you can also do something alone: for example, ride your bike to the neighborhood store.