Combatting climate change requires a significant reduction of the carbon footprint of transportation. Posti’s vehicles cover more than 110 million kilometers every year. Roughly 75 million of these kilometers involve the delivery of mail. According to an emission report commissioned by Posti, Posti could cut the emissions of basic delivery by up to 30–40% by reducing delivery days.
The next government is expected to carry out new measures aimed at combating climate change. This requires significant changes particularly in transportation, which accounts for a fifth of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In its environmental program, Posti has also undertaken to reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions. The aim is to reduce these emissions by 30% from the 2007 level. The majority of Posti’s greenhouse gas emissions in Finland arise from transport and the emissions of vehicles.
Since 2015, Posti’s services in Finland have been entirely carbon neutral thanks to the company’s environmental program and voluntary emissions trading. Posti compensates for its emissions by participating in certified climate projects.
Potential for emission reductions is the greatest in mail delivery – 1.5 million kilometers driven in a week
Daily delivery and transport operations are nevertheless the source of a lot of emissions, given that Posti’s vehicles drive some 110 million kilometers every year. The current Postal Act still requires Posti, in practice, to cover Finland in its entirety five times a week due to universal service. On a normal delivery day, mail delivery covers a total of 320,000 kilometers in the whole country. On Tuesdays – during which delivery is lightened – the kilometers amount to 170,000.
Posti asked Bionova Oy, a company specialised in the calculation of carbon footprints, to find out how much Posti could reduce its emissions if the amount of delivery days would be reduced from the current five per week. A reduction of delivery days has become topical due to the steep decline in letter volumes. Nowadays, Posti delivers only an average of 5.5 addressed items a week to households, and the proceeds of delivery will no longer cover the costs of five-day delivery in the coming years.
The study carried out by Bionova assessed the effects that alternative delivery days would have on the fuel consumption of basic delivery and, thereby, on Posti’s carbon footprint. The assessment accounted for the emissions throughout the lifecycle in accordance with the ISO 14040/44 standard and the CML characterization factors.
Carbon footprint would be 40% smaller with three delivery days
According to Bionova’s calculations, the weekly carbon footprint caused by five days of basic delivery is 900,489 kgCO2e. In 2017, Posti reduced the coverage of the Tuesday delivery – a move which already reduced emissions by 9%, to 816,068 kgCO2e. The lightened Tuesday delivery includes the delivery of a majority of newspapers, parcels, express letters and laboratory items.
Current daytime delivery requires Posti’s vehicles to drive 1,450,000 kilometers a week. If Posti would shift to two lightened delivery days a week, the amount of kilometers driven would decrease to 1,300,000 kilometers and, in a three-day delivery, to 960,000 kilometers a week. On a normal delivery day, Posti’s vehicles consume roughly 33,000 liters of fuel.
Posti’s carbon footprint would reduce by 19% if it would shift to two lightened delivery days. Moreover, Bionova’s calculations show that with three delivery days, the carbon footprint would reduce to 540,294 kgCO2e, meaning that emissions would fall by as much as 40%.
“The results show that a reduction in kilometers reduces the carbon footprint to a significant degree, with the emission impact of three-day delivery being 40% smaller than in the five-day model. By reducing delivery days to three, we could reduce emissions by a total of 360,000 kgCO2e a week,” says Noomi Jägerhorn, Posti’s Head of Sustainability.
Emissions could be cut by around 18.7 million kgCO2e a year
When compared to the current model with a single lightened delivery day, two lightened delivery days would result in a 10% reduction in emissions. A shift to three delivery days would reduce emissions by a third (34%).
“Finland is a sparsely populated country of long distances which make the current obligations imposed by the Postal Act unsustainable, not only because of the cost structure but also the climate impact. By reducing delivery days, we could reduce the climate burden of basic delivery by as much as 18.7 million kgCO2e in a year, compared to five-day delivery,” adds Jägerhorn.
Posti also reduces emissions by investing in biogas and electric vehicles
Posti also pursues a reduction in emissions by investing in environmentally friendly logistics. Posti’s fleet of alternative vehicles now includes some 40 biogas vehicles that run on the 100-percent renewable Finnish Gasum biogas. Last year, Posti commissioned 200 new electric freight scooters and 250 new electric maxi-delivery carts around Finland. Posti also has electric delivery cars. In 2018, Posti added two full-trailer combination trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its fleet.
In addition, the environmental efficiency of transport operations is improved by planning routes efficiently, ensuring a high utilization rate, combining deliveries and driving in an environmentally responsible manner.