KlimaProtect: climate-neutral shipping with GLS

Logistics causes around 14 percent of global CO2 emissions. The transport sector accounts for 75 percent of these. GLS is aware of its responsibility for the environment and has been committed to climate protection for over a decade. Whether it is through depots operated in a resource-saving manner, optimised tours using modern IT tools or sustainable city logistics solutions. In October 2019, GLS Germany went one step further – with our GLS KlimaProtect programme. In this context, all emissions caused by parcel transport from Germany and our business activities in Germany are compensated.

Reduce, avoid & compensate

 GLS KlimaProtect is based on two pillars: reduction & avoidance and compensation. The emissions generated by parcel transport and our business activities are compensated by a certified reforestation project (VCS/CCB standard) via the organisation PRIMAKLIMA e.V. – more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 in the first GLS KlimaProtect year.

GLS also continues to invest in measures to reduce and avoid emissions. In addition to the use of 100 percent sustainable electricity, GLS is expanding its fleet of e-vehicles, installing the necessary charging infrastructure and promoting emission-free delivery in city centres.

 Sustainable city logistics

 In the summer of 2016, GLS Germany in Konstanz delivered parcels with an e-bike for the first time. Since then, more cities and vehicle types have been added continuously, for example e-scooters, e-vans and e-trucks. Currently, more than 20 projects with far more than 100 e-vehicles are underway throughout Germany – and the trend continues to rise. The inner cities of Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Karlsruhe are already being supplied emission-free. Further cities will follow.

The acquisition of many e-vans is being subsidised as part of the federal model project ZUKUNFT.DE. Thus, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is promoting the use of e-vans on the last mile and pushing the setup of charging infrastructure – with scientific support.

 Depending on the delivery area, GLS uses different vehicles. As an example, GLS uses e-vans for delivery to rather outlying districts. With the agile e-bikes and e-scooters, on the other hand, the delivery drivers reach recipients in the city centre – despite narrow streets and high traffic volumes. The share of vehicles with electronic drive in parcel delivery is constantly increasing and the variety of models is growing. So far, however, they have met the industry's requirements only to a limited extent, as short ranges and lower loading capacities limit their possible applications.

 In order to compensate for these, GLS Germany relies on the combination of e-vehicles with city and micro depots. These can be ParcelShops or swap bodies in the area of operation or even small properties with the appropriate infrastructure. Here the vehicles can be loaded with new parcels during the delivery tour.

 The supply concepts depend on the local conditions and are therefore individually adapted to the requirements. In Dortmund, for example, the depot is so centrally located that the tours can start directly there. In Leipzig, on the other hand, the delivery driver picks up additional parcels in ParcelShops along the route. The parcels are delivered there in the morning by van – this enables effective use of the e-bike.

In Düsseldorf, consistently sustainable city logistics is most advanced. The last gap to a completely electric and emission-free delivery in the city center within the framework of this lighthouse project was closed in May 2020 by the use of an e-truck. The FUSO eCanter brings parcels from the Neuss depot to the city depot in downtown Düsseldorf, where e-vans and e-bikes take over distribution. The electrically operated 7.5-tonne truck is then used to pick up parcels from customers.

GLS will gradually promote the use of e-vehicles in other suitable delivery areas. In general, GLS is testing various sustainable delivery concepts throughout Europe. The aim is to find the most efficient and sustainable solution for each individual tour.

Environmentally friendly depots with self-sufficient power supply

In order to achieve completely emission-free delivery, GLS has started to produce and temporary store electricity for the e-vehicles. In the first GLS KlimaProtect year, around two million euros were invested in photovoltaic systems and charging stations alone. So far, about 60 charging points have been installed at GLS locations.

At the EuropeanEcoHub in Essen as well as at the Erding and Vaihingen sites, the company already produces its own electricity and uses it for operations. The Essen location has also model character for the entire GLS Group in other aspects of sustainable parcel handling. The aim is to supply more and more locations with self-produced electricity.