By Damiana Serafini, Transport Manager at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Did you know that traffic and road congestion cost the European Union (EU) around €100,000,000,000 every year? That’s approximately 1% of the EU’s GDP . The combination of increased private vehicle ownership  and rising demand for freight means we urgently need to take steps to address mounting pressure on road infrastructure. 

Freight is responsible for 7% of global CO2 emissions - this is set to quadruple by 2050 . The increase of last mile logistics (urban delivery of goods) is particularly problematic given its immediate effects on the local population. The challenge is to decarbonize and increase efficiency so that there are fewer vehicles carrying the same, or greater, volume of goods.

Logistics expert Alan McKinnon, Professor of Logistics at Kühne Logistics University and author of Decarbonizing Logistics: Distributing Goods in a Low Carbon World, identifies improved asset utilization as one of few decarbonization measures in the logistics sector that closely aligns with good business practice and offers low-carbon mitigation costs . Improving the efficiency of assets could translate to enhanced revenue from assets for businesses as well as fewer traffic jams for everyone else.

Truck empty-running the target of new collaborative research initiative

Work has started on FreightShare Lab (FSL) a new collaborative research project focused on tackling the transport inefficiencies associated with empty and partially laden truck-running. UK Government statistics, released in October, indicate that over 30% of all truck journeys are made when trucks are empty (i.e. without a load being carried).

FSL, a project co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, aims to demonstrate how strategic data and asset sharing between multiple road/rail carriers and shippers can reduce empty running and under-utilisation of freight vehicles. The 30-month project aims to provide real-world validation of a feasibility study conducted by World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in 2016, called the Road Freight Lab.