Changing consumer behavior in Europe is accelerating e-commerce and the demand for city logistics. The kilometers driven by delivery vans increased by 111% between 2016 and 2020 in the Netherlands. While the growth of the city logistics sector enables a wide availability of on-demand delivery services for residents, businesses, and organizations, the sector also contributes substantially to traffic congestion, noise pollution, and CO2 emissions.
Moreover, the parade of vans and lorries that finds their way into the city daily affects the quality of public space by blocking streets and sidewalks when loading and unloading goods. Most parcel logistics in cities concern last-mile delivery, the last leg of the supply chain in which a parcel is delivered to or picked up from businesses or residents. There are new innovations to make last-mile delivery more sustainable. New transport modes such as light electric vehicles and cargo bikes enter the city, and pilots aimed at consolidation through parcel lockers and city hubs are developed.
While the importance of transitioning towards sustainable city logistics is acknowledged and ambitious policy goals are set, the road towards sustainable logistics systems is bumpy and full of challenges. The European Green Deal aims for a 90% reduction in emissions in transport in 2050. In the Dutch policy context, 30 to 40 cities and other logistics stakeholders agreed to strive for emission-free city centers by 2025. The transition towards sustainable city logistics is far from a given and is jeopardized by substantial barriers. To overcome these barriers and foster sustainable logistics innovations and policy integration, sharing experiences and advancing collective knowledge are essential.
A new report for Groningen University (NL) presents a compilation of results from Bachelor’s and Master’s projects on city logistics from the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen. It aims to inspire logistics stakeholders, including policy advisers, decision-makers, and residents, with new possible sustainable solutions.
The results are presented in three overarching themes:
● NODES, exploring how to implement parcel lockers and logistic hubs effectively.
● FLOWS, identifying favorable conditions for cargo bikes, small electric delivery vans, and drone delivery.
● POLICIES, addressing the consequences of sustainable logistics policies for small
entrepreneurs and retail districts.
The student researchers conducted their research in 2021-2022 using a mixed methods approach (e.g., questionnaires, interviews, policy document analyses, and literature reviews). The Netherlands serves as the geographical context of all conducted studies, with the majority focusing on urban areas in the North of the country.
Rauws, W., & Buser, M. (2022). Making city logistics more sustainable: Learning form the opportunities and
challenges faced in Dutch Cities. University of Groningen.