Sustainable Logistics & the Policy Conundrum

30 September 2020 - Published by Deirdre Buist
As the freight transport sector is viewed as an important contributor to high emissions, policy makers are increasingly required to prioritize this issue, explore ways that reduce negative impacts and promote the use of more sustainable modes. Surflogh partners Keith Fisken (SEStran) and Dr. Jonathan Cowie (Napier University) have jointly produced a paper reflecting on the political conundrum of sustainable logistics.

A key objective of transport policy makers concentrates on improving transport access and connectivity for citizens whilst, at the same time, delivering economic growth and business efficiency. To date most policy discussions and interventions have been focused on intermodal switching of large volume, long distance freight movements - primarily from road to rail. However, in an urban context, urban freight policy is often problem oriented as opposed to being proactive.

Sustainable logistics solutions

Through the SURFLOGH project, Edinburgh Napier University & SEStran research team have been examining the provision of urban sustainable logistics such as sustainable last/first mile solutions, micro consolidation depots, locker systems and mobile consolidation options served by cycle logistics and electric vans. Smaller volume and shorter distance freight movements, driven by the online shopping trend, are an increasingly important component of the logistics mix. This has only been heightened by the current Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown.


First mile, last mile

To build a more sustainable transport system, policy developers must have an understanding of when and how businesses and consumers can be encouraged to switch to more sustainable modes of freight transport. This means not just looking at last mile solutions but also examining the potential to produce modal shifts from earlier stages in the supply chain, thereby utilising the first mile as the only mile.

Combining ideas

In Edinburgh the next stage of the pilot will focus on combining the ideas of micro consolidation centres, locker systems, cargo bike logistics and locally/community focused networks. Aim is to link up local speciality businesses with a wider community-focused clientele, offering a range of local produce delivered in one package.


The work continues….


You can read the full paper on Sustainable Logisitcs and the Policy Conundrum here