London’s Bad Air Has The City Investing In An Electric Package Delivery Service

All those Amazon orders add up to a lot of pollution.

You might keep the car in the garage by shopping online instead of driving down to the mall, but all those deliveries add up to a lot of pollution in our cities. In London, the congestion caused by delivery vehicles rose 3.4% between 2008 and 2014, according to Bloomberg, and well over half of these vans are less than a quarter full. Worse, van traffic is expected to grow by 20% in the next 15 years.


That makes a big contribution to London’s filthy air, which kills almost 10,000 people every year. But something is happening in London that could help assuage your guilt about your daily deliveries from Amazon and Zappos: electric delivery vehicles.

Gnewt Cargo is a fleet of all-electric delivery vehicles that delivers 20,000 packages per day in England’s capital, and London’s transport authority will be giving it more funding. Gnewt (Green New Transport) isn’t a courier or delivery company that you use to send your parcels. Its clients are delivery companies like Hermes, TNT Express, and DX (the local equivalents of UPS and FedEx). “My clients send me all of their freight in bulk through the night,” Gnewt boss Sam Clarke told Bloomberg, “and then we will sort it and do the last mile in town with zero emissions.” Gnewt also operates co-branded vans, which adopt the various delivery companies’ own liveries.

Electric deliveries are one way to curb delivery emissions in cities. Another is to consolidate deliveries, which is also part of Gnewt’s offer. Why does each shipping company have to send its own quarter-full van down the same street, when somebody like Gnewt can make one trip? It’s also better for the customer, who only has top answer the door and sign for packages once.

Many European cities also use human-powered delivery vehicles. Germany’s entire postal service runs on bikes, with the postal workers pedaling seemingly impossible loads through rain, sun, and snow on their iconic yellow bikes. And in cities like Barcelona, where the narrow streets of the medieval gothic quarter make regular vans impractical, TNT uses electric-assisted trikes with big, locking cargo containers on the back.

The environmental savings are significant. By using Gnewt, Hermes Parcelnet cut the number of miles it traveled in a year by 80%, equating to a 67% drop in carbon dioxide pollution, reports Bloomberg.

Gnewt is still relatively small, with just over 100 vehicles in its fleet, but it delivered 2.6 million items last year. And whether or not Gnewt expands or moves into new cities, the advantages of its model are clear. Online shopping is already greener than driving to the store yourself, and consolidating deliveries, and making them in electric or human-powered vehicles, can make it even greener.


Photos: via Gnewt Cargo

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Previously found writing at, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.