Research on crowd logistics: an opportunity for sustainable urban freight transport?

Passenger car occupancy has been falling for years. Partly empty vehicles on our road networks decrease passenger transport sustainability but also contain an opportunity for freight transport. Within crowd logistics, delivery operations are carried out by using passengers’ excess capacity on journeys that are already taking place, resulting in economic, social and environmental benefits.

Existing crowd logistics initiatives show, however, that there are important differences between concepts in terms of sustainability. Research by Brussels VU-university aims to develop a suitable and comprehensive definition for crowd logistics and identify which factors determine the sustainability potential of crowd logistics.



The Brussels VU-university systematically analysed a 42 papers and interviewed 11 logistics practitioners in order to capture the state of practice.
Following the literature and interviews, they first define crowd logistics as ‘an information connectivity enabled marketplace concept that matches supply and demand for logistics services with an undefined and external crowd that has free capacity with regards to time and/or space, participates on a voluntary basis and is compensated accordingly’.
Secondly, they identify a set of 18 characteristics that can describe the variety of crowd logistics concepts based on the role receivers, commissioners, platform providers, LSPs and the crowd play.
Thirdly, they indicate whether the identified characteristics affect the economy, society and/or environment.
The research shows that all characteristics influence economic sustainability while 11 characteristics also affect social and/or environmental sustainability.


The research helps local policy-makers to adapt laws and regulations to the sharing economy developments and provides insight for businesses which crowd logistics concept fits their company’s corporate social responsibility strategy.
Crowd logistics: an opportunity for more sustainable urban freight transport?. Available from:

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