They clog the streets and are often filled with diesel: parcel services are criticized for their carbon footprint. The packing stations are intended to save CO2. But does the calculation work?
The Swiss Post is investing to be more climate-friendly and probably also to save costs. There will soon be 15,000 instead of the current 12,000 packing stations and 1,000 instead of the current 100 postal stations across the country.
“This means that we can offer our customers 24/7 package access,” says Thomas Kutsch, spokesman for Deutsche Post AG. Kutsch also promises that the branch network will not shrink further.
Packing stations save travel distances
According to Deutsche Post, the packing stations must have a positive effect on the climate: “Climate protection also plays an important role, because compared to classic door-to-door shipping, we save a third of CO2. We can deliver up to 100 packages in the machine in one trip.”
At Hermes, collection solutions will also play a more important role in the future, explains press spokesperson Julia Kühnemuth: “Delivery in parcel stores allows more packages to be delivered with much fewer trips.” Traffic and emissions in the so-called “last mile” would be reduced. “Delivery collected from a Hermes ParcelShop generates an average of 25 percent less CO2 than delivery to a private door.”
Real climate protection or sweetening?
Kathrin Zabel, CEO of the PropaketBox association, does not believe that the systems of the sector giants really save so much CO2: “This only applies to their own climate footprint, because delivery vehicles no longer have to go to each house. But “One crucial aspect is kept secret: customers have to drive to the station and pick up the package, which generates additional traffic.”
Research shows that a home delivery actually produces less CO2 than driving many private cars to the station. This is due to better vehicle utilization by delivery services and more efficient route design.
Package box without supplier as an alternative
The Zabel association promotes a different solution: the so-called provider-free parcel mailbox, to which all service providers have access. The system is located like a mailbox directly at the customer’s home, and each delivery service can place their packages there, which has the effect that each customer is always reachable: there is no need for repeated delivery attempts.
According to the association, these parcel boxes currently have more than 400,000 compartments throughout the country, which are used by approximately 1.8 million people. “This saves about a minute of time per package. If we extrapolate, this means we need 2,000 fewer deliveries every day across the country, which means there are 2,000 fewer vehicles on the roads spreading their exhaust fumes,” Zabel calculates. .
Integrate trams and cargo bikes?
Urgent help is needed because the number of parcels in Germany is increasing dramatically. While just under 2.8 billion packages were delivered in 2014, forecasts predict it will be nine billion in 2028. For delivery services, the issue of environmentally friendly delivery to customers will become increasingly pressing in the next years.
For this reason, the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences is investigating solutions: “For example, we are investigating how we can also integrate the tram system,” says scientist Dennis Knese. “The packages are transported by train from the warehouse on the outskirts of the city to the center, where they are transported on a cargo bike and then transported to the end customer.” According to the researchers, this can reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 57 percent compared to conventional transportation.
“In the end, usually the only thing that matters is the costs”
However, the model of the University of Applied Sciences would mean an increase in staff and therefore costs for parcel service providers. For this reason, according to the Knese, development is progressing slowly: “All companies are open to innovations and very interested. Of course, the question is always: what happens to the money?” says the sustainable mobility expert. “Nowadays, all companies are under pressure to act, they all have their sustainability goals, they have to become greener, they have to be more climate friendly, but in the end, when it comes to implementation, it is usually just about of costs”.
And because of them, many good ideas fail. Therefore, there is still a long way to go until parcel delivery is climate-friendly. According to experts, you can also do something yourself: for example, ride a bike to the neighborhood store.