UPS unveils Dublin ‘eco package hub’ to reduce delivery van journeys

An "urban eco package hub" has been launched by package delivery firm UPS that will limit the amount of delivery vehicles operating in the city centre to ease congestion and pollution concerns.

UPS announced on Thursday (1 June) that a locally-designed container has been placed on Wolfe Tone Street that will support package delivers made by foot, bike and electrically-assisted cycles and tricycles.

Acting as a mini distribution centre, the “urban eco” container hub will eliminate the need for four vehicle dispatches in the city centre each day.

“As one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, Dublin is going through an exciting period of change – but one that also comes with challenges of congestion and air quality,” UPS’s Ireland country manager Andy Smith said.

“We see this urban eco hub as an important part of the community. It addresses and reduces congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and sits as a piece of public art that celebrates local talent.”

Dublin’s Chamber of Commerce estimates that around 500,000 people travel within the city daily. By 2023 an estimated 234,000 commuters will make trips into the city, a 20% increase on 2015 levels.

Although electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining in popularity, it is likely that these extra commutes will add to congestion and air pollution.

Commenting on the announcement, Dublin City Council’s head of technical services Brendan O’Brien said: “This pilot project gives an excellent collaboration opportunity between UPS and Dublin City Council to reduce the number of goods vehicles on the city streets, reduce congestion and improve the urban environment with less emissions, noise, and damage to roadways. The outcome of this pilot project will inform freight delivery practices in the city.”

UPS has already trialled similar schemes in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and other parts of the UK. Notably, the project in Germany has seen between seven to 10 fewer delivery journeys in the city of Hamburg daily.

Delivering decarbonisation

The delivery firm has established a dedicated framework to reduce its fleet emissions. Since 2007, overall carbon intensity has fallen by 14.5%, as UPS closes in on a 20% reduction target for 2020.

The reduction has been aided by a foray into the EV market. Under the “Rolling Laboratory” initiative, upwards of $750m was invested by the end of 2016 in alternative fuel and advanced technology fuelling stations globally, including hybrid-electric trucks.

Currently, around 12% of the conventionally-fuelled ground fleet is being replaced by these new fuel-mix vehicles. Last year, UPS purchased 125 new hybrid electric delivery trucks in the US and begun trials for its first range-extended EVs in the UK.

Under the Rolling Laboratory initiative, more than 7,200 vehicles have been combined with UPS’s ORION system, which can see up to 30,000 delivery route optimisations each minute to save on fuel use and road miles.

In March 2017, UPS’s director of sustainability for Europe Peter Harris told edie that the firm is partnering with distribution network operator UK Power Networks to trial decentralised power generation and onsite storage systems at its London operating base.

Matt Mace

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