Expanding fleet drives up Royal Mail emissions

The Royal Mail has seen a 3.6% rise in carbon intensity over the past year due to a growing delivery fleet and more delivery miles, but has revealed plans to boost vehicle efficiency.

The uptick was revealed in the company’s latest sustainability report, released today (8 June). As well as the expanding fleet – which now accounts for two thirds of all emissions – the firm claimed that changes to Defra’s emission conversion factors had increased the carbon impact of its electricity use.

But the company, which is triple certified by the Carbon Trust, confirmed that it was still on track to cut emissions by 20% by 2020 against a 2004 baseline.

The Royal Mail pointed to its new driver telemetry programme, which it expects to cut vehicle fuel consumption by 5% next year. The programme uses real-time satellite tracking systems to analyse the drivers’ driving style, and then delivers efficiency recommendations  through an in-cab communication system.

The firm has also purchased 110 vehicles with autoadjust roof deflectors that improve a vehicle’s aerodynamics, potentially reducing fuel consumption by another 3-5%.

In addition, the Royal Mail says it is cutting down on air deliveries, using planes only for priority packages. Replacement road transport emits roughly a third of the emissions of the aircraft it replaces.


The logistics industry as a whole is embracing innovative ways to save money and reduce carbon by cutting delivery miles.

German company DHL is known for championing the concept of ‘reverse logistics’ – moving a product from its point of consumption to the point of origin to recapture value.

For example, DHL was recognised at edie’s recent awards ceremony for its partnership with Wetherspoons, to whom it delivered more than 2,000 roll cages of food and drink to every day. Those roll cages are then filled with waste, and backhauled to the National Distribution Centre in Daventry for sorting and processing .


Meanwhle, Norwegian start-up Nimber is also looking to revolutionise the logistics space, with its peer-to-peer delivery concept, which it recently brought to the UK. The service makes use of unused capacity by using real people who are already going somewhere to make deliveries, bringing about significant environmental benefits.

“The success we have had in Norway demonstrates that peer to peer delivery can greatly boost the sustainability of the sector, adding a personal touch along the way,” said Nimber chief executive Ari Kestin.

As reported by edie, the Royal Mail’s group director of health, safety, wellbeing and sustainability Shaun Davis recently spoke at the Smarter Sustainability Reporting conference in London. Davis said that communicating and embedding sustainability throughout an organisation is often hampered by a ‘treacle layer’ at operational level, which can make it harder for businesses to develop new environmental strategies and produce succinct corporate social responsibility reports.

Brad Allen

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