Germany plans compulsory CO2 labels for parcels

CO2 labels

German politicians and Deutsche Post are calling for introduction of CO2 labels on parcels delivered by couriers and delivery services.

Industry professionals and politicians in Germany are calling for CO2 labels on all parcels, as part of its forthcoming postal law reforms. The labels would reveal the carbon footprint of individual parcels and the move could soon be adopted by other nations where increased emissions transparency is inevitable.

“Germany is considering radical postal and parcel reforms, in what is expected to be the biggest shake-up of services in 30 years,” said David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero. “Its Federal Ministry of Economics is reportedly weighing up legislation to introduce CO2 emissions information.”

The SPD MP Sebastian Roloff says: “Everything that focuses on more climate protection in parcel delivery is worth considering. There should be more transparency for consumers.”

Germany’s postal service, Deutsche Post, is backing these reforms. Ole Nordhoff, chief marketing officer for Deutsche Post’s Post and Parcel division, says that CO2 labels will create ‘transparency and comparability for users’. He believes that clearly defined standards for carbon emission measurements will reduce false information that ‘creates a climate-friendly impression’.

Deutsche Post wants to see all parcel services, including German couriers, introduce CO2 labels. Under the proposals, consumers would be able to see how many grams of CO2 are released on a shipment and contrast one provider’s emissions with another’s.

Supplying more comprehensive environmental information is an initiative other German parcel operators broadly support, with Hermes saying average emissions should be part of all operators’ annual reports. However, it cautions it’s not possible to anticipate the footprint of each individual parcel shipment.

Deutsche Post has an advantage over other German operators when it comes to emissions. Not only does it already have around 23,000 electric vans and scooters for final mile deliveries but in many areas its postal workers can deliver parcels as well as letters on their daily rounds. Compared to couriers, that significantly reduces the number of separate delivery journeys for its parcels.

ParcelHero’s view is that supplying information to customers about average parcel delivery CO2 emissions is increasingly important. However, the feasibility of printing a label with the exact emissions for a particular delivery, before it has even taken place, is highly problematic. It’s impossible to predict the impact of re-routings, traffic jams, second delivery attempts, etc in advance.

“The real problem with the booming online trade is not shipping in Germany, but the climate impact and waste of resources through the manufacture of the product itself,” said Viola Wohlgemuth, Germany’s Greenpeace spokesperson.

One way in which international delivery companies try to accurately measure the true cost of a delivery and its environmental impact is by using volumetric weight to calculate the size of a package, rather than its actual weight.

Comparing information can present problems. Different companies use different divisors to set this rate. And some apply a different volumetric formula for their express service compared to their economy service. To cut through this confusion ParcelHero’s new tool not only calculates the typical volumetric weight but if you enter the specific carrier and service you are thinking of booking it will calculate the exact volumetric weight you will be billed for.

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