The importance of sustainable logistics has become increasingly evident in recent years. Consumers have become more conscious of their impact on the environment, and ecommerce companies are responding to this increased pressure by providing prioritised sustainable delivery options in shopping carts. This is further supported by the ever-increasing rise in ESG reporting (Environment, Sustainability and Governance) required at a corporate level. In response to this growing groundswell toward sustainability, Urb-it, the leading green courier company, is constantly seeking innovative ways to progressively get closer to solving the trilemma of
- Reducing our clients’ carbon footprint
- Maintaining cost-effectiveness
- While maintaining the speed of delivery expected by consumers
Our overarching goal is to achieve full end-to-end sustainable logistics solutions in both the UK and Europe. We recognise this is probably a 10-year timescale rather than the 6 months we would all like to see, but every 10,000-mile walk has to begin with the first step. Little by little, one mile at a time, we are inching ever closer to that objective, and we are super excited about our recent partnership earlier this year with Varamis Rail.
This partnership is laying the groundwork to help transform the logistics industry and demonstrates the power of green innovation across the supply chain. In this blog post, we explore the details of this exciting partnership and explore its potential to bring about the green nirvana for most of us in the logistics industry - end-to-end sustainability, while maintaining efficiency, speed and competitiveness.
Background on the Urb-it/Varamis Rail partnership
“History Doesn’t repeat itself but it tends to Rhyme” Mark Twain
The locomotive's breath first billowed in the early 19th century, heralding a transformative era in logistics and transportation. The steam engine roared to life, propelling carriages along metal veins that crisscrossed continents. From the industrial might of the steam age to the sleek speed of bullet trains, railways have always been seen as the pioneering spirit of progress. Varamis Rail is placing its own contemporary twist on this pioneering spirit.
Varamis is a start-up freight operating company established in London in 2019. It is the UK’s first high-speed rail logistics company providing fast, zero-emission electric rail logistics services. By providing a viable alternative to decarbonising the logistics supply chain, its services offer significant environmental benefits by promoting eco-friendly practices and optimising logistics processes. Varamis has been building operational reliability on its overnight all-electric parcels and light goods service, which it operates on the UK's electrified rail network. Their expansion plans include actively revitalising a number of lightly used former mail and freight terminals across the UK’s rail network - reclaiming the history of a bygone era. Like Urb-it, Varamis is beginning its long journey towards end-to-end sustainability. By launching its initial Midlands to Scotland service in the UK, with more locations to follow in the future, this journey has begun.
We are delighted to partner with Varamis, as their commitment towards sustainable rail logistics resonates deeply with our values and goals. Both Varamis and Urb-it are committed to sustainability, with the partnership enabling us both to have more flexibility. Now, together, we can also extend our respective sustainability capability for ecommerce companies and beyond. For Urb-it we can significantly add to our portfolio of longer-haul zero emissions capability.
Why embrace end-to-end Sustainable Logistics?
The power of end-to-end sustainable logistics should not be overlooked. By adopting eco-friendly practices and optimising logistics processes, companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint, conserve resources, and minimise waste. At the same time, the smart use of data to source underutilised capacity can help plan logistics which can lead to marked cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved customer satisfaction. As an industry-leading player that is dedicated to sustainable logistics, at Urb-it we are increasingly mindful of how the logistics industry is heading towards a natural collision course with global regulators.
As we saw in our earlier blog “Why Should eCommerce Companies Invest in Sustainable Logistics?” the International Energy Association (IEA) reported in 2021 that transport accounted for a staggering 37% of global CO2 emissions. As adverse climate events continue to escalate across the globe, it is only a question of when, and not if, governments take a bigger stick to deal with climate change. This is only made worse by many governments beginning to lag behind their UN Net Zero targets. Because of its size, the logistics industry is firmly in the crosshairs of the bi-partisan climate change narrative. After all, regulating the logistics sector towards enhanced sustainability can move the global needle significantly.
By adopting sustainable practices, such as sustainable last-mile delivery from Urb-it, optimising delivery routes, using alternative fuel vehicles, and reducing packaging waste, both logistics providers and ecommerce companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprints and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Sustainable Logistics works with emerging technologies
The future of sustainable logistics is looking brighter than ever, with more and more companies recognising the importance of reducing their environmental impact and embracing sustainable practices. With advancements in technology and a growing demand for eco-friendly solutions, the logistics industry is poised for significant transformation in the years ahead. The challenge is that new technologies take time to nurture, evolve and grow.
One of the key trends shaping the future of sustainable logistics is the adoption of green technologies. Alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric and hybrid trucks, are becoming increasingly common in global logistics fleets. These technologies, however, take time to weave their way into CAPEX budgets. So many trucks have a lifespan of 15+ years - so replacements take time to mature.
Logistics providers are also exploring new ways to use renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to power their own operations. As these green technologies continue to evolve and develop, they reduce carbon emissions. Increasingly they also offer cost benefits with increased efficiency giving enhanced Return on Investment.
Sustainable logistics is also embracing increasingly sophisticated supply chain management systems. By leveraging data and analytics, logistics providers can optimise delivery routes, reduce waste, and improve the efficiency of their operations. These systems can also help to improve transparency and traceability in the supply chain, allowing companies to better monitor their environmental impact and make informed decisions about sustainability.
The Benefits of Partnerships
The future of sustainable logistics will undoubtedly be shaped by a growing focus on collaboration and partnerships. Sustainability is new to so many companies and there is no value in re-inventing the wheel. As companies work together to achieve sustainability goals, they can share resources, insights, and best practices, leading to more efficient and effective solutions. Partnerships between logistics providers and sustainability experts can also help to drive innovation and create new solutions for reducing environmental impact.
Overall, the future of sustainable logistics looks promising, with new technologies, data-driven optimisation, and collaborative partnerships driving progress towards a greener, more sustainable future. By embracing sustainable logistics, companies can not only reduce their environmental impact but also gain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing industry.
The power of partnering with dedicated sustainability specialists
By having shared values and goals, partners can embrace new ideas together. At Urb-it our core focus is that of improving the sustainability of the last-mile delivery through the use of e-cargo bikes. These bikes can take advantage of the cycle pathways throughout the UK’s cities and those in many European countries. We have our eyes and ears constantly open to new ideas that will help us improve our market offerings. We recognise our strengths and recognise there are others that welcome those tight sets of skills. Equally, from our side we recognise there are skills and offerings that we need to embrace.
For example, Varamis specialises in net zero electric rail deliveries. This helps us fill our long-haul commitment to sustainable logistics. By coming together and understanding the challenges of embracing sustainable logistics together we can help not only each other but we can offer wider solutions to ecommerce companies and beyond. The business books talk about synergy - we call it environmental synergy.
Environmental synergy looks at the sum of the environmental parts being greater than the individual parts. We, like Varamis and others who are embracing end-to-end sustainable logistics, need patience and recognise the journey is long and will have challenges but ultimately is worthwhile for all.
We are delighted with our continued journey with Varamis. By having shared values and a core commitment to sustainability means we both have the opportunity to revolutionise sustainable logistics not only for ourselves individually but also to help develop new methodologies and business models that help all of us within the logistics industry to be able to embrace end-to-end sustainable logistics and proactively embrace the inevitable regulation that is on its way. As an industry, it is vital we embrace the reality that sustainability is here to stay and that governments will proactively try to get themselves ahead of the climate change debate.
We welcome discussions with ecommerce companies and other potential partners who want to join us on this journey. Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn so that together we can all be part of the positive, disruptive change that is on its way.