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Will the UK follow German plans to make CO2 labels for parcels compulsory?


German politicians and the country’s post service Deutsche Post are calling for the introduction of compulsory CO2 labels on parcels delivered by all couriers and delivery services. If the plan works, might the UK follow suit?

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics is reportedly weighing up legislation to introduce CO2 emissions information, as part of its forthcoming postal law reform. The SPD MP Sebastian Roloff, said: “Everything that focuses on more climate protection in parcel delivery is worth considering… There should be more transparency for consumers.”

And Deutsche Post is backing these reforms. It stressed that CO2 labelling will create “transparency and comparability for users”. The postal service added that clearly defined standards for carbon emission measurements will reduce false information that “creates a climate-friendly impression”.

It’s not only parcels using the country’s postal service that may require new emissions labelling, Deutsche Post wants to see all parcel services, including German couriers, introduce CO2 labels. Under the proposals, consumers would be able to see how many grams of CO2 are released on a shipment, and contrast one provider’s emissions with another’s.

International delivery firm ParcelHero has said where Germany goes Britain may need to follow, and increased emissions transparency is inevitable.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, added: “Supplying information to customers about average parcel delivery CO2 emissions is increasingly important. However, the feasibility of printing a label with the exact emissions for a particular delivery, before it has even taken place, is highly problematic. It’s impossible to predict the impact of re-routings, traffic jams, second delivery attempts, etc in advance.

“One way in which international delivery companies try to accurately measure the true cost of a delivery and its environmental impact is by using volumetric weight to calculate the size of a package, rather than its actual weight. That’s because, to use an extreme example, a ton of feathers would take up far more space in an aircraft than a ton of lead – although ParcelHero doesn’t advise you send either by general courier service.

“Here again, though, comparing information can present problems. Different companies use different divisors to set this rate. And some apply a different volumetric formula for their express service compared to their economy service.”

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