Last Mile Deliveries

 

Last mile delivery describes the most hectic part of the supply chain as products make the final steps of their journey into the hands of the consumer. It is also where the worst of the pollution occurs in cities. Delivery vehicles tend to be diesel vans. Diesel has been the fuel of choice for such vehicles mainly because their torque allows them to shift heavy loads with ease, but the unfortunate drawback is that diesel engines aren’t really at their best in the stop and start traffic that is so typical of the last mile, and this means they contribute a lot of pollutants and particulates in to the air we breathe. A diesel engine actually burns its fuel much more cleanly and efficiently when it is cruising at steady revs and speed which just isn’t possible in cities.

Air quality is a major issue in urban areas

Air quality is a major issue in urban areas

Planet Minimal is committing to use only electric vehicles (or a combination of electricity and pedal power!) for last mile deliveries. It is true that the bulk deliveries of our products will come in on diesel vehicles, but the fact that there will be a single drop a few times a month to a location that is away from the centre of the city will make for a drastic reduction in the impact of our business. Further to this, the trucks that make the large deliveries to us will have completed the majority of their journey cruising on a motorway when a diesel engine is at its most efficient and least productive of nasty particulate emissions. I don’t want to bore you with the detail too much here, but modern particulate filters on Euro 5 and Euro 6 engines are only really effective when the engine is running at a certain temperature, something that is rarely achieved in slow moving city traffic - this helps to explain why even the diesels described as ‘clean’ by the manufacturers that are so eager to sell them are still pretty disastrous in city use. And it also highlights the failings of Euro certification - Euro 5 and 6 vehicles are definitely cleaner than older diesels, but the question of whether they are clean enough is much more debatable.

Our aim is always to be striving get better in our operations

We believe that we will be considerably more planet friendly than most (or all) brands out there with similar products to ours, but there are still plenty of areas where we will be able to improve even further in terms of our impact on the environment. Unfortunately, in the economy in which we have to operate, environmental friendliness often comes at a cost. There will be a balancing act for some time to come between forming a viable business that has a strong future and can always be striving to get better versus being able to be truly carbon neutral. Fortunately, the economy in general is moving in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean that more couldn’t be done to improve on that. A carbon tax, for example, would help level the playing field immeasurably and make it a lot easier for businesses to select electric vehicles.

Cargo bikes - we’re pretty sure these will be cropping up for last mile applications in our cities a lot more over the coming years

Cargo bikes - we’re pretty sure these will be cropping up for last mile applications in our cities a lot more over the coming years


We will always work to select suppliers that use efficient and ideally electric vehicles as and when they become viable for large loads - the sooner we can move the entire supply chain to zero fossil fuel use, the better for everyone. In the meantime, we think the strategy to keep last mile deliveries as clean as we will, combined with the minimal waste ethos upon which the business is founded is certainly the right way forward.



 
Hamish Ainsley