Couriers Go Green

Add Your Heading Text Here

1. Introduction

1.1 General Intro

Strategic planning plays a crucial role for businesses and organizations aiming to align long-term sustainability objectives with the overall organizational strategy. In the transportation and logistics sector, strategic planning green frameworks offer valuable tools for companies seeking to make a green shift to their operations. These frameworks address key environmental challenges and emphasize the integration of eco-friendly practices into various aspects of the value chain. Sustainable transportation emphasizes adopting cleaner technologies and optimizing supply chains [1], while carbon footprint management involves measuring carbon emissions and focuses on reducing them through fuel-efficient vehicles and optimized route planning [2]. Green supply chain management integrates environmental considerations into the supply chain network, focusing on waste reduction, while circular economy concept encourages resource efficiency through remanufacturing and reverse logistics [3]. Such approaches provide a useful starting point for businesses and organizations in the transportation and logistics sector to develop strategic plans that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility. By measuring and reporting on their performance, business and organizations can identify opportunities for improvement and work towards a more sustainable future.

For this purpose, the “Couriers Go Green” project aims to develop a strategy as well as a training and a training-certification scheme that will offer competencies and motivation to target group organisations and their personnel to optimize their overall green environmental performance. In this project the main target groups are the Courier, Delivery, and Transportation companies personnel, while secondary target groups are Logistics, Transportation and Environmental consultants. The objective of this report, as the main deliverable of project Activity 2.2: “Development of Green Strategy Process Model Document”, is to develop a framework that serves as a roadmap to help a business or organisation to design activities required to implement a green shift into their operations. In addition, the framework is integrated into a digital TOOLBOX that provides the necessary guidance for the target groups to implement the green shift according to the planning process. To this end, the methodology is designed to help them follow a standardised and structured pathway, which has been tested by the project pilot companies in Activity 2.3.

The next section of the report outlines a mapping of the primary stakeholders or target groups that are directly involved in implementing the framework. It also includes important findings derived from the questionnaire survey and interviews included in Deliverable 2.1 in Chapter 2 (Activity 2.1). The third Chapter presents in detail the methodology established for creating or updating a green strategy in the target group sectors, while Chapters 2 and 3 provide a detailed description of all phases and steps of the methodology. In the final chapter, the main findings are presented and will serve as an essential input for future activities of the project.

1.2 Stakeholder Map

As described in the project’s ‘State Analysis Assessment Report,’ the green transition of courier, postal and delivery “last mile” operations is expected to contribute to the overall goal of European cities for sustainable development and climate resilience. In this context, the stakeholders that participate in the green transition of courier, postal and delivery services represent a wide range of actors, i.e., service providers, end-users of services, policymakers, consultants, and researchers. The above actors play a different role in the promotion of the green transition of courier, postal and delivery services (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Stakeholder map of the green transition of courier, postal and delivery services (source: Own elaboration)

Some actors have a higher interest in developing and/or implementing green transition strategies, as this is a main goal of their mission, and are in the position to apply such strategies directly to their daily business or encourage/impose the application of such strategies through policy measures. These stakeholders are considered to have a high level of interest and power and comprise both the courier, postal and delivery service providers and the public authorities that design and implement the respective policies. The community of consultants and researchers contribute to the green transition by supporting companies and policymakers through evidence-based support to decision-makers (either authorities or companies), transfer of know-how and innovation and enhancement of knowledge and information for all stakeholders. However, they do not have the authority to directly realize changes in the courier, postal and delivery operations. Thus, it is considered that consultants and researchers, mainly in the fields of transportation & logistics and environment & climate, have a high level of interest but not a high level of power. On the other hand, the end-user, i.e., the customer (either citizen or company) of courier, postal and delivery service providers, can indirectly affect the green transition process by favoring “greener” services. If such consumer behavior was implemented at a large scale, it could play a definitive role in the implementation of green transition strategies. There are various aspects that do not facilitate such a behavioral shift at a large scale, which refer to the awareness and engagement of the public, incentivization and affordability of “green” products and services etc. These aspects have not yet been successfully addressed by policymakers, ranking the green transition of courier, postal and delivery services lower in the priorities of customers. In this sense, end-users have a high cumulative power for green transition, but, under the current circumstances, have low interest or ability to exploit this power.

Based on the above approach, the project identifies two groups of stakeholders, i.e., the main target group which combines “high power” and “high interest” towards the green transition and the secondary target group, which is as strategically important for the green transition as the main target group but exhibits either lower “power” or lower “interest”.

More specifically, these target groups comprise:

  • Main target group: Courier, postal and delivery services and public authorities responsible for policy-making and management.
  • Secondary target group: Transport & logistics and climate and environment strategy consultants, researchers, companies and other users of the aforementioned services.

Through appropriate action, the project will appropriately empower all stakeholders to become agents of the green transition.

1.3 Barriers and Opportunities

Drawing conclusions from the ‘State Analysis Assessment Report’ and namely the relevant stakeholder questionnaire survey and interviews, the main barriers towards the green transition of courier, postal and delivery services were identified. A major barrier is the lack of detailed and updated knowledge of the relevant EU and national policy framework by many stakeholders, a fact that refers also to some service providers, infrastructure management authorities, consultants, and researchers. The renewal of vehicle fleets for operators to replace older and more polluting vehicles with zero-carbon ones is relatively limited. In addition, energy consumption related to non-transport-related activities, i.e., by buildings and equipment, is high. On the other hand, the adoption of new technologies, such as the use of renewable energy and automation, is still low. According to many of the survey respondents, the measures and policies implemented at the national level are insufficient or ineffective. From the side of the operators, there is a lack of effective strategic planning and know-how in monitoring and managing the green transition.

Despite the average to low level of updated knowledge of the EU and national policy framework, stakeholders consider that the implementation of such policies is important to achieve sustainability in the operations of courier, postal and delivery service companies. Towards this direction, the companies may gain useful insight and understanding by adopting a strategic framework that will help them assess their strengths and priorities, mainly those that address the energy efficiency of vehicles, buildings and equipment, the employee awareness, training and engagement, training certification and the monitoring of emissions and reporting. Moreover, some cases were identified that the companies have developed and implemented green transition strategies or initiatives, which however comprise isolated efforts. For example, less than half of the surveyed companies have designed or implemented training (e.g. eco-driving) and skill certification schemes for their employees. On the basis of a holistic framework, such as the one developed by the current project, a unique opportunity is also presented to share knowledge and exchange good practices.