The courier business goes into overdrive around Christmas as businesses rush to meet surging demand and exacting delivery deadlines. But while the Christmas period is usually a good one for all kinds of businesses, the environmental impacts are significant. As more and more miles are logged, so emissions surge.
But some couriers are facing up to their environmental responsibilities. And why not? The financial and business reasons for doing so are just as compelling as the environmental ones.
The rise of the green couriers
There was a time when most couriers relied on the good old Ford Transit, the uber-reliable, highly economical workhouse galloping up and down the motorways of the UK.
Nowadays, the growth of hybrid and electric cars has offered many companies the opportunity to provide green solutions. And while some remain in the dark ages, others have seized it with both hands, aware not only of the marketing potential of offering a green face to a traditionally polluting industry, but also the possible cost savings.
Couriers delivering within the same cities have a range of ecological vehicles at their disposal, from traditional bike couriers to UPS’ electric vans, which can combine low emissions with very high capacity, squeezing cost efficiency.
Couriers face a number of business costs, such as heightened wear and tear, courier insurance, considerable fuel costs and road tax.
While green vehicles cannot generate savings on all fronts, they can achieve significant results in others. With the latest Toyota Prius – already favourite of London taxi and courier companies because of its reduced Congestion Charge tariff – only producing 49 grammes of CO2 per kilometre, road tax is significantly reduced while, even more importantly the incredible 139 miles per gallon it offers mean the soaring price of petrol can be counteracted. This gives a huge advantage over competitors struggling with petrol-guzzling motors.
Other costs should be counteracted by going to specialist providers, such as Quote Me Today, a leading insurance broker and specialist in motor insurance. With an extensive panel of insurers, they can also provide packages tailored to more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Long-distance deliveries still rely on Ford Transits and their ilk, but that is not stopping some companies seizing the marketing opportunity provided by green credentials.
A growing number of traditional couriers offer the opportunity for customers to offset the carbon footprint of their deliveries. Others contribute a percentage of their cost to alternative energy and tree planting projects.
But it is not just through intentional marketing posturing that couriers have turned towards environmental responsibility. The act of streamlining processes in a competitive marketplace has also driven ecological performance.
The advent of sat navs has enabled couriers to plot the most efficient routes from pick up to delivery, remote working has reduced the need for office space and the continued improvement in scanner and barcode technology, and the omnipresence of email, means many businesses now run a paper-free process.
All of the above makes for good, environmentally friendly practice but, just as importantly for the companies themselves, sound business sense.