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GUEST COMMENT Embracing the road to a more sustainable future


This Thursday 15 June 2023 marks Clean Air Day — the UK’s largest air pollution campaign. Now in its seventh year, the event brings together the health sector as well as communities, businesses and schools up and down the country to improve public understanding, build awareness and explain easy actions to tackle air pollution, writes Mark Footman, chief operating officer at CitySprint.

Mark Footman, chief operating officer at CitySprint

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today, with statistics revealing that every year in the UK, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths. And, in fact, this year’s theme — “Clean up our air to look after your mind” — draws attention to the growing evidence base that shows air pollution can impact our mental, as well as physical, health.

If we are to truly make positive tracks in the right direction when it comes to tackling pollution and improving the environmental health of our planet, businesses of all shapes and sizes need to play their part. And this includes companies operating in the logistics space.

As the UK’s largest same day courier company, we understand that given the nature of the logistics industry, businesses like ours have an active role to play when it comes to lowering emissions related to their operations. That’s why sustainability has been a crucial part of our business strategy for years, and our environmental action now falls under a core pillar of our CSR programme.

But with so many potential areas for logistics businesses to prioritise when it comes to sustainability, we understand that it can be tricky to know where to start. Here, we share our advice to help you embrace the road to a more sustainable future.

First, focus on the fleet
Thankfully, due to advances in technology, the number and variety of eco-friendly vehicles that are available for use in business’ fleets or as part of the supply chain is growing exponentially. There’s now something out there to suit every business’ needs or budget.

For example, we have invested heavily in cargo bikes in our same day delivery network. Cheaper to buy and maintain, cargo bikes hold several benefits. For instance, because they are zero emission, it means they can operate without being subject to the congestion charge or ULEZ zones in London and other cities around the UK.

They can also take advantage of dedicated cycle lanes and take shortcuts through streets blocked off to motor traffic and can park up close to their destinations. This means that they can complete journeys up to 50% faster than small vans — allowing for couriers to easily drop off and pick up packages. And then there’s the fact that each cargo bike that replaces a van saves over 4 tonnes of CO2 per year; another clear bonus.

Next, electric motorbikes – which we use to support our same day and critical healthcare logistics in London – are another great option for the quick delivery of smaller items in cities and towns across the UK. With a range of 137 miles, these vehicles are zero-emission and ULEZ-compliant and save 2.5 tonnes of CO2 annually. Meanwhile, bicycles — both manual and electrically-assisted — are also ideal for the speedy delivery of smaller items in cities.

Finally, another great zero-emission vehicle option are electric vans, which save eight tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year. Quieter than traditional vans, they have a load capacity of 865kg and are great for deliveries in metropolitan areas, where charging points can be found more easily.

Next, turn to sustainability across wider business operations
Aside from fine-tuning their fleets, there are a number of other things that logistics businesses can do if they are to truly embrace sustainability to help reduce the environmental impact of their operations.

They could, for instance, look to divert business waste from landfill and use renewable energy across office and warehouse sites. Or they could look to launch business-wide energy efficiency campaigns as a way of monitoring energy consumption. This would allow businesses to make small changes to their daily operations, as and when necessary, to make sure they are using less energy in the long run.

Ultimately, with sustainability-focused protests becoming increasingly prevalent and expectations on corporate responsibility and transparency becoming more important than ever it’s clear that the focus on air quality and sustainability is more than just a trend. As such, the UK’s businesses need to take a long-term view at how they operate and ensure that their sustainability objectives are at the core of everything they do.

This proactive attitude is exactly what’s needed for the UK to power ahead and become a prime example of good practice to the rest of the world. So, what are you waiting for?

Mark Footman, chief operating officer at CitySprint

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