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Reducing emissions of goods

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By optimising the use of trucks and new methods of goods distribution, Gothenburg has reduced its emissions from goods delivery

Over the past three years, the Swedish city of Gothenburg has been involved in a project to see if it could reduce the emissions from goods distribution by acting smarter.

Sweden’s second city, with a population of around 1 million in the metropolitan area, has worked with truck manufacturers such as Volvo, freight distribution companies such as DHL and others such as the University of Gothenburg with great success.

In the three-year period, emissions from 400 distribution trucks operating in the city were cut by at least 30 per cent.

Known as the Climate-Smart City Distribution project, the partners worked to improve the efficiency of distribution operations in central Gothenburg.

Over the project’s three years, climate impacting emissions dropped by an average of around 30 per cent, but some vehicles saw their emissions fall by up to 80 per cent.

This was done by replacing tradition diesel with alternative fuels as well as improving efficiency in the way products are delivered.

“The most difficult challenge, was not to develop new fuels or new vehicle technology but to improve the efficiency of our transport operations,” says Volvo Trucks environment director Lars Mårtensson.

“In order to fully exploit the available potential, it’s not enough for haulage companies to improve their logistics systems. It’s equally important that transport purchasers become better at coordinating their purchases, and here there is a whole lot of room for improvement.

“To start with, when companies are purchasing, they are usually doing so from many suppliers.

“Typically, they will purchase the product with the transport of it included and this is inefficient.

“We need a different transport solution with warehouses outside the city bringing the goods together at a central distribution centre, for the goods to be then distributed to the centre.

“This was tested successfully in Gothenburg, and although it is not a new idea, we need to raise awareness of more efficient transport solutions.”

Volvo Trucks GothenburgIn downtown Gothenburg, there are around 6,500 companies that need daily goods distribution services, and so more coordination of their requirements was built into the distribution model.

Other ideas such as opening up bus lanes to distribution traffic, using lighter distribution vehicles within the city boundaries from the distribution centre and undertaking transportation operations when there is less traffic on the road to avoid congestion also delivered environmental benefits.

“Gothenburg doesn’t have unique challenges,” adds Lars Mårtensson. “It has congestion and limitations on how goods can be moved on narrow streets with residential and commercial populations. It has many of the factors of complex cities.

“We see the truck as part of the transport solution, but it needs to be used more efficiently such as at quieter times of the day, and this might mean vehicles that create less noise or are lighter than those used on the highways.”

In the 400 vehicles used in the project, conventional diesel was replaced with three different technologies.

These were renewable fuels from biodiesel and biogas, hybrid technology and methane-diesel fuel.

While the use of the Swedish product ACP Evolution Diesel (which uses a mixture of conventional diesel and rape methyl ester) saw only a 14 per cent reduction for goods trucks, a switch to a hybrid vehicle using rape methyl ester saw an 84 per cent emissions reduction for waste management vehicles.

Switching to gas-driven light vehicles for distribution saw an 83 per cent emission fall, while a conversion to rape methyl ester only on the vehicles resulted in a 68 per cent drop in emissions.

As a result of the project, Volvo is working with its partners on the development and testing of solutions for next-generation cargo traffic both on intercity highways and inner-city streets.

“We want to help develop tomorrow’s cities and are actively looking for partnerships where we can contribute our expertise and experience,” says Lars Mårtensson. “The road ahead goes via closer cooperation between different actors and here we definitely have a role to play, both locally and globally.”




Business Region Göteborg, Region Västra Göteland, Swedish Transport Administration, Volvo Trucks, Preem, FordonsGas, Renova, Posten, DE Schenker, DHL, GLC and Fraktkedjan.


Climate Smart City Distribution is a collaborative sustainable transportation project led by Business Region Göteborg with support from Region Västra Göteland.

The purpose of the project was to develop more efficient and climate-friendly solutions for urban distribution.

It had the major overall objective to demonstrate solutions for the reduction of climate-change impact by distribution in Gothenburg by 50 per cent.

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Category: Energy
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