Reading 7 minutes

Guide to Carbon Neutral Shipping for Last Mile Delivery Companies

carbon neutral shipment

The need for a cleaner and cost-effective way for eCommerce shipping companies or businesses to deliver customer’s packages is why carbon neutral delivery is becoming increasingly popular in the delivery industry. To answer the question, what is carbon neutral shipping? It’s when delivery and eCommerce businesses aim to deliver customer’s packages by balancing the carbon emission created by the package’s shipping and handling. 

Put, carbon neutral shipment is the term used to describe the shipment of goods where the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere equals the amount of isolated carbon dioxide.  

For shipping to be carbon-neutral, carbon dioxide’s net release must be zero. That is, there must be no traceable carbon footprint. One of the most common ways to make shipping carbon-neutral is by using clean energy sources such as electric vehicles or powering ships with wind or solar energy. 

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly prevalent in the shipping industry, as they are more efficient and cost-effective since they don’t use fuel and emit far less pollution than traditional diesel-powered vehicles. 

Why Should My Business Offer Carbon Neutral Shipments? 

As a delivery business owner, understanding what is a carbon neutral delivery is the first step in the right direction towards net zero carbon dioxide emissions. The next step is knowing why your business should offer it. From reducing carbon footprint to reducing shipping costs and creating a  more sustainable supply chain, there are several benefits of CO2 neutral shipping to your business.

Reduce the company’s carbon footprint

As businesses become more aware of the environmental effects of CO2 and the need to reduce their carbon footprint, many are looking for ways to ship their products more sustainably. 

One option is to use carbon-neutral shipping methods, including the purchase of carbon offsets, which refers to offsetting the emissions produced by your shipping company by investing in projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere. For example, a company might invest in land restoration, tree planting, or solar panels. 

By offsetting their emissions, businesses can help reduce their environmental impact and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. In addition, carbon-neutral shipping costs less and can also help businesses to save money by reducing their fuel costs.

Reduce the environmental impact of shipping products

As the world increasingly becomes aware of greenhouse gas emissions and the importance of a sustainable approach, carbon-neutral shipments are becoming increasingly popular as they help reduce shipping products‘ environmental impact. There are several ways to make your shipments carbon-neutral. 

One is to use green shipping methods that don’t rely on fossil fuels. This includes using electric vehicles for your delivery. While 3PL fulfillment companies can use electric cars for last-mile delivery, there are not yet electric airplanes or ships for commercial transportation of packages across long distances. 

As a result, investing in carbon offsetting projects is another way of reducing the environmental impact of your shipping products. 

Preserve the environment

Our carbon footprint causes several negative environmental effects like human-induced climate change, air pollution, ocean and coastal acidification, and the worsening of glaciers and polar ice melting. The transportation industry accounts for about 14% of the total global carbon emission, which portrays the need to preserve our environment. 

As such, the delivery business industry must show ways to reduce the environmental impact. One of the most impactful ways businesses can help reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses is by ensuring their shipments are carbon-neutral. 

Save money

Businesses can save money on shipping costs by using carbon-neutral methods. This means offsetting shipment emissions by investing in projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. Investing in electric vehicles to deliver customers’ packages is also a way to save extra costs and businesses money on shipping costs.

Create a more sustainable supply chain

As businesses strive to become more sustainable, they seek ways to reduce their environmental impact across their entire supply chain. One way to do this is by shipping products using carbon-neutral methods. 

Carbon-neutral shipping can help businesses offset their emissions from transportation and other activities related to their supply chain through various methods, such as investing in carbon offsets or using clean transportation options.

Consumers care about their carbon footprint

Most consumers are now increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint and its effect on the environment. As such, they’re also looking for ways to reduce their footprint. By offering a  carbon neutral shipping service, conscious consumers are more likely to identify with and patronize your service to signify or state their commitment to a greener environment. 

In turn, an increased number of customers will increase the revenue generated by your business.  

Understanding The Environmental Impact of Last Mile Deliveries

In the delivery industry, the last-mile process is essential because it covers the journey from when the package leaves the distribution center till it gets to the customer. 

During last mile delivery, several businesses utilize vans, trucks, or passenger vehicles — all of which generate carbon dioxide and are also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful to the environment. 

As such, it’s essential to understand the effect and impact of last-mile delivery on the environment. 

The carbon footprint of last mile delivery methods

The rise in the number of last mile delivery vehicles is increasing the carbon footprint. The emission from a company’s supply chain usually amounts to 90% of its total emissions, with its last-mile emissions accounting for around 5% of the supply chain emission. 

However, these numbers can differ greatly depending on the company’s product, where it’s manufactured, and how it’s delivered. According to a joint investigative study by Clean Mobility Collective (CMC) and Research Group’s last mile delivery annually emits around four million tonnes of CO2 in the United States, three million in Europe, and 500 thousand in India. 

Effects of carbon emissions on air pollution

The amount of carbon emissions from last mile delivery can affect human health. It indirectly impacts the visible form of air pollution called smog, which harms respiratory health. 

Carbon emission increases temperature and humidity, increasing smog formation and CO2 pollution, affecting our planet and human health through direct and indirect fashions.  

Tips For Reducing Carbon Emissions From Shipping

As a delivery business owner, here are some essential tips you can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your shipping process. 

Use Eco-Friendly Packing Materials

There are many benefits to using eco-friendly packaging materials. Eco-friendly packed materials often have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional packaging options.

They may be made from recycled materials or sustainable sources like bamboo or hemp. Some eco-friendly packing materials can even be composted after use.

Reduce Waste In Packaging And Shipping

Businesses can significantly impact their carbon emissions by reducing the waste generated during last mile delivery. There are several simple ways to reduce waste in packaging and shipping.  

One is to use recycled materials whenever possible. Recycled paper, for example, can create packaging cushions or void fill. Other sustainable materials that can be used include bamboo, wool, and cornstarch peanuts.

Power Deliveries With Green Energy

Most traditional vehicles used for deliveries are powered by fuel, which releases CO2 when used. Switching to green energy to power delivery vehicles is one way to reduce carbon emissions. You can use electric vehicles or green hydrogen by replacing old engines with hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors. 

Optimize Routes For Fuel and Mileage Efficiency

The higher the distance driven to deliver a package, the higher the fuel consumed and carbon released to the environment. Apart from increasing operational costs, it also depicts the environment. 

Utilizing routing software can help the shortest possible routes for delivery, reducing mileage and the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. 

Make Warehouses And Offices More Energy-Efficient

Warehouses and offices are responsible for a significant amount of the energy used in shipping. To achieve carbon-neutral shipping, making these buildings more energy efficient is essential. This can be done through various measures, such as installing energy-efficient lighting and heating/cooling systems, improving insulation, and using renewable energy sources. 

Improving insulation will also help reduce energy consumption, as it will keep heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. Finally, using renewable energy sources, like solar panels or wind turbines, can help offset these buildings’ carbon emissions.

Use Multiple Fulfillment Centers

One way to reduce carbon emissions from the shipping industry is to use multiple fulfillment centers. This would allow for more optimized route options during delivery. When delivery businesses have multiple fulfillment centers, drivers will cover shorter distances to fulfill deliveries, reducing emissions. 

Educate Employees On Sustainable Habits and Practices at Work

One of the easiest ways to make a change in reducing carbon emissions from shipping is by educating your employees on several sustainable practices at work. That way, they can easily practice sustainable habits during the delivery process. 

For instance, educating them on using eco-friendly packaging materials is a great way to eradicate or reduce your businesses’ carbon emissions. 

Purchase Carbon Offsets

If you want to achieve carbon neutral shipping, one option is to purchase carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are a way to reduce your carbon footprint by funding emissions-reducing projects elsewhere. 

For example, you could purchase offsets that support renewable energy projects like wind or solar farms. 

When choosing a carbon offset provider, it’s important to ensure that they are reputable and that a third party verifies their projects. You should also look for offsets with the greatest impact on reducing emissions.

Incentives and subsidies for companies adopting carbon-neutral practices

There are several subsidies and incentives available for businesses that adopt or follow carbon-neutral practices. 

Government grants and funding

Several government fundings and grants support businesses and companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint by adopting energy-efficient or renewable energy systems. Notably, these grants and funding often vary by state and can help businesses in significant savings.

Tax credits and rebates

Businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint by following carbon-neutral practices can benefit from green tax credit incentives like ITC (Investment Tax Credit). This type of credit allows businesses to receive up to 30% of their original investment if they invest in solar energy. 

Subsidized energy rates

Businesses looking to go green are often eligible to get subsidized energy rates for their business. The United States has a $430 billion green energy subsidy package offering tax breaks for renewable energy technologies components.

Green certification and labeling 

Green labeling or certification are also called eco-labels or environment labels. They’re symbols printed on products and packaging to show they adhere to environmental standards or characteristics. By adopting carbon-neutral practices, you can get a green certification, showing you’re environmentally rated. 

Full visibility of last mile deliveries is key to achieving carbon neutral shipping

When looking to reduce your carbon footprint, it is essential first to understand the question, what is carbon offset shipping? While it involves compensating for the CO2 emitted during last mile deliveries, carbon-neutral shipping aims to balance the carbon emission to zero. 

One way to achieve this is by having full visibility of your entire fleet. Properly planning your delivery routes can reduce the fuel consumed and reduce the net emission of CO2 before switching to non-carbon means like electric vehicles.

Frequently asked questions about carbon neutral shipping

What is carbon offset shipping?

It’s the process of compensating for the carbon emitted during operations and transportation through activities or projects to offset carbon. 

What courier companies offer carbon-neutral shipping?

Shipping giants UPS offer carbon-neutral shipping options supporting projects offsetting carbon emissions. FedEx has pledged to carbon-neutral operations by 2040.

Is carbon neutral shipping expensive?

The cost of carbon-neutral shipping varies due to several factors. However, using the service means you’ll be charged hire as you’ll be paying to offset carbon. UPS carbon-neutral shipping usually ranges from 5 to 75 cents for ground shipping and international packages, respectively. 

What is 100% carbon neutral shipping?

It’s basically the transportation of packages where the net CO2 is as close to zero as possible. 

Are there any certifications or standards for carbon neutral shipping?

Yes, there are. For instance, through the internationally recognized carbon neutral standard, delivery businesses can certify that they have successfully negated their carbon footprint.

How can electric delivery vehicles reduce carbon emissions in last mile delivery?

Electric vehicles do not make use of fuel, and as such, they do not generate carbon dioxide and are more eco-friendly than regular diesel-powered vehicles. 

How can last mile delivery companies measure and report their carbon emissions?

Last mile delivery businesses can calculate their carbon emissions by multiplying the distance each driver covers by the weight of the packages they’re carrying and finally by the mod emissions factor of road transportation. 


Stay ahead of your competition with a handy email straight to your inbox with the latest posts, updates and industry insights.

Detrack is smart delivery management software that helps improve your business and reduce costs.