A paper by Croci et. al analyses the environmental footprint of last-mile distribution logistics operations through the application of a life cycle analysis method (LCA). The environmental impacts of the delivery activities were carried out in the Limited Traffic Zones (LTZ) of the cities of Milan and Turin by a large private logistics operator.
Through scenario analysis, current delivery practices and an alternative solution, consisting of replacing the diesel vehicle fleet with electric vehicles (EV), are evaluated. The following environmental impact categories are considered: climate change, particulate matter caused by the emission of inorganic substances, photochemical smog formation, and acidification.
The results show that, compared to current delivery methods, the adoption of EV is associated with an environmental impact reduction between −40% and −50% for global warming and photochemical smog formation, and a reduction between −15% and −25% for acidification. The adoption of the EVs increases the particulate matter emissions compared to diesel vehicles (by up to + 13%) due to the carbon intensity of the national power system, while it reduces them by −7% when at least 50% of the electricity is sourced from dedicated photovoltaic columns.
The environmental footprint of last mile-logistic operations is assessed via an LCA. The conclusions are:
- Substituting diesel vehicles with electric vehicles is associated with a positive life-cycle environmental impact.
- Electric vehicles reduce by 40% to 50% global warming and photochemical smog formation related impacts.
- Electric vehicles reduce by 15% to 25% acidification related impacts.
- Particulate matter emissions are reduced only if electric vans are coupled to renewables’ generation.