The organic, locally-grown apple I just bought probably arrived at my corner store on a diesel-guzzling truck. While local food may travel a shorter distance, those last few miles typically aren’t very efficient. That’s part of the inspiration behind Foodlogica, a new food delivery service in Amsterdam that uses solar-powered e-bikes instead of trucks.
“We saw a paradoxical problem–sustainable food is not sustainably transported,” says Mehdi Comeau from Foodlogica. “We wanted to offer sustainable local businesses an alternative, emission-free method of transport.”
The startup, which began a pilot program in June, has transport hubs at key locations like the Amsterdam Food Center, where most food distribution originates. The company stores and charges electric cargo trikes inside recycled shipping containers topped with solar panels. A driver can load up around 500 pounds of produce or meat and then start making rounds to local cafes, chefs, and grocery stores.
The company is the brainchild of the Cities Foundation, a local organization that’s been studying urban food issues for the last three years. As they considered the situation in Amsterdam, they realized that one of the biggest challenges the city faced was the transportation of food. Cafes, bars, and restaurants in Amsterdam get an average of 31,000 deliveries a week–clogging up roads with double-parked vans and trucks, and polluting the air. In city limits alone, food travels around 15 million miles a year.
Amsterdam already has a few alternative delivery companies using vehicles like electric trucks and even electric boats in local canals. One cargo bike company started in 1991. But with electrified bikes, Foodlogica’s model may be able to more easily reach all corners of the city and carry bigger loads. The company also plans to focus primarily on local food.
Since Amsterdam is a biking mecca, the startup didn’t have difficulty implementing their new system. But they hope to bring it to cities around the world, and think that it might be even more helpful in places that are less used to bikes.
“Because less bike-dominant cities are more congested and polluted by autos everyday, there is even more reason to implement Foodlogica,” says Comeau. “We want to see Foodlogica in cities worldwide. The system is ready to go, but other cities’ policy, infrastructure and cultural practices and perceptions may need varied amounts of tweaking before successful implementation takes to the streets.”
For now, the company is focused on expanding in Amsterdam, and plans to add several new transport hubs in the coming year.