Sustainable Urban Logistics: new challenges and solutions

SURPLIE Alexis

Mobility expert

Table of contents

Cocoparks develops and deploys the benchmark solution for intelligent traffic and parking management

Share

What is urban logistics?

Urban logistics refers to all activities aimed at organizing, managing and optimizing the flow of goods in urban areas. It plays a crucial role in product distribution, waste management and the supply of commercial and industrial products. Today in France, there are 85 million m² of warehouses, or 1.1 to 1.2 m² per inhabitant. The aim is to respond efficiently to consumer needs while minimizing negative impacts on the city, such as congestion, pollution and noise.

I – What are the challenges facing urban logistics?

Urban decongestion

The constant increase in traffic in urban areas poses a major challenge for logistics. By optimizing routes and using smaller, more agile delivery vehicles, cities can reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

In Bordeaux, 25,000 of the 100,000 vehicles using the ring road every day are heavy goods vehicles. APRC Group, a major player in logistics real estate in France, carried out a study showing how many heavy goods vehicles could be unloaded from the ring road with a site outside the city. We’re taking 100 trucks off the road every day, saving them an extra 15 km (to deliver to the center of Bordeaux).

Pollution Reduction

Today, delivery vehicles are a major source of pollution in urban areas. Urban logistics alone account for 50% of fine-particle emissions, 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of traffic-related road occupation.

In 2018, the average truck emits 903 g of CO2 per kilometer, around 5.5 times more than passenger cars. Taking the Bordeaux case as an example, no less than 494.4 tonnes of CO2 per year (1.3 tonnes per day) are avoided by preventing 100 trucks per day from travelling an extra 15 km.

Reducing delivery times

In today’s world of e-commerce and mass consumption, consumers expect fast, efficient delivery. In 2023, French e-commerce reached a total of 160 billion euros, up 10. 5% on 2022. Optimizing distribution networks to reduce delivery times is therefore a key challenge.

Merchandise Flow Optimization

Efficient management of goods flows is essential to meet consumer demands while minimizing costs. This includes synchronizing deliveries, consolidating loads and using real-time tracking technologies to improve visibility and inventory management.

II – How can we meet the challenges of urban logistics?

Optimization of logistics real estate

In a context where the French landscape is marked by ZAN (zero net artificial development), the strategic use of the little land available for urban distribution centers has become a major challenge. This reduces travel time and improves delivery efficiency.

Companies are therefore redoubling their ingenuity in response to this constraint. One example is the rehabilitation of brownfield sites, which, according to Afilog, accounts for 60% of logistics projects currently carried out on brownfield sites. They can also convert buildings whose original use was not logistics.

Cleaner Vehicle Fleets and Delivery Methods

The adoption of electric or hybrid vehicles, or alternative modes of transport such as cargo bikes, is helping to reduce pollutant emissions from conventional trucks and vans. In a context where the urban environment is highly constrained and restrictions are ever tighter (ZFE, ZAN …), companies are turning to alternatives to ensure the “last mile”.

According to the strategic analysis committee of the Rungis International Market, the last kilometer accounts for around 20% of urban traffic and occupies up to 30% of road space. It is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas. In addition to the use of cleaner electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles, cyclologistics offers the greatest flexibility. Cargo bikes can take alternative routes and free themselves from constraints, guaranteeing a continuous logistics service even in dense urban centers.

Pooling logistics spaces

Sharing logistics space between several companies reduces costs and optimizes the use of resources, particularly land. In urban areas, these are rare and expensive. In Paris, the 35,000 m² Chapelle Internationale logistics hotel is a case in point. It includes a basement already used by the distributor of products for Métro cafés-hotels-restaurants, as well as a datacenter, which will be used by the City of Paris and the AP/HP.

It’s a project that would, according to calculations, reduce semi-trailer journeys in Paris by 1,100,000 km/year and save 560 tonnes of CO₂ emissions.

Better management of delivery areas

Delivery bays are often subject to disruptive parking by users who park in spaces not allocated to them. Technological solutions like Cocoparks help to better manage delivery areas. By providing real-time information on the availability of loading zones, this facilitates control assistance for road agents.

Supply Chain Optimization

Using relay points for the final distribution of goods can reduce individual delivery routes and improve efficiency. Mondial Relay offers private customers the opportunity to become a collection point for centralized deliveries. Today there are thousands of them in France, enabling consumers to collect their parcels close to home or work.

Amazon, for example, uses “regionalization” to place its warehouses as close as possible to the customer to minimize lead times. Today, this complex task is performed by in-house tools based on artificial intelligence. The model used by Amazon enables us to anticipate which products will be demanded by consumers in which regions. In the USA, 74% of parcels are shipped from centers in the same region as the recipient using this model.

III – Who are the key players in urban logistics?

Private-sector players drive urban logistics

Transport companies

Transport companies play a crucial role in getting goods from distribution centers to end consumers. Companies such as Géodis, the world leader (9.6 million m² worldwide) and DHL are industry leaders. They are constantly innovating to improve efficiency and reduce the ecological footprint of their operations.

E-Commerce companies

E-commerce companies are key players in urban logistics. With the rise of e-commerce, they are investing heavily in delivery infrastructures and technologies to guarantee fast, reliable deliveries. Among the giants of the sector are Amazon and Alibaba, who are constantly investing in the creation of new logistics hubs to support this growing demand, and in the most sustainable way possible.

Logistics real estate companies

These companies provide the space needed for distribution centers and logistics hubs. They manage a portfolio of real estate assets that they lease to various companies. Prologis (3.25 million m² owned worldwide) and Goodman (€48 billion worldwide portfolio) are two of the sector’s leading players, offering logistics real estate solutions tailored to the specific needs of customers. They accompany and advise them in their search for a real estate platform.

Public players, a role as urban logistics managers

The French State

The role of the State is to regulate and support urban logistics initiatives through public policies and financial incentives. For example, the French government offers subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles for urban delivery. It also introduced a number of laws, such as the Climate and Resilience Act and the LOM Act, which gave rise to the ZFE and ZAN. These will restrict private players and encourage them to find new, more sustainable solutions for the logistics sector.

Local Authorities

Local authorities are responsible for planning and managing the urban infrastructure required for efficient logistics. They have an arsenal of tools at their disposal, such as the PLU and the SCOT. Local authorities can decide to implement a logistics policy, by creating dedicated sites and reserving specific time slots for delivery vehicles. Their role is set to grow, as they are the driving force behind the promotion of efficient logistics.

Consumers

Consumers play an indirect but crucial role in urban logistics, influencing delivery practices through their behavior and expectations. As we’ve seen, the trend is towards home delivery. If consumers were more aware of their impact, this would make the process simpler. Encouraging collection at relay points, reducing online consumption and avoiding home deliveries as much as possible are just some of the points.

Nevertheless, we are witnessing a welcome awakening. According to a Senate survey, 93% of the 3,000 people questioned felt insufficiently informed about the consequences of their purchases. And of these 93%, 90% would like to have information on the impact of their online purchases.

Produits

Observatoire analytique du stationnement

Des data précises, objectives sur le stationnement, enfin !​

Aide au controle

Améliorer l'efficacité du controle avec de la data

Guidage à la place

Apporter un service visible au quotidien pour vos usagers​

L'appli Cocoparks

Le stationnement en temps réel, dans votre poche !​

Collaboration et gestion des arrêtés

Gagnez du temps et en qualité pour transformer la voirie

Optimisation du stationnement

Réorganiser pour améliorer l'attractivité et la sécurité

La tech est au cœur de la solution Cocoparks, par ici pour découvrir notre plateforme technologique

Products

Observatoire analytique du stationnement

Precise, objective parking data, at last!

Control assistance

Improving control efficiency with data

In-place guidance

Provide a visible daily service for your customers

Cocoparks app

Real-time parking in your pocket!

Collaboration and management of orders

Save time and improve quality to transform roadways

Technology platform

Reorganizing for greater attractiveness and safety

Technology is at the heart of the Cocoparks solution. Click here to discover our technological platform.