Royal Mail pledges net zero by 2040 and sets ambitious new 50gco2e parcel target – the same as making a cuppa

Royal Mail has launched an ambitious new environment plan, which includes a long-term target to reduce its average carbon emissions per parcel it delivers in the UK from 205gCO2e today to 50gCO2e. That’s about the same carbon emissions as making a cup of tea with milk.

The company has also brought forward its Net Zero target by 10 years to 2040 and is committing to near term emissions targets in line with climate science*, reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025/26 and Scope 3 emissions by 25% by 2030, from a 2020/1 base year.

Royal Mail’s 90,000 posties walk over a billion steps a day, delivering to 31 million addresses. These ‘feet on the street’ help make the company the greenest option for delivering parcels, based on competitors’ reported emissions**.

Yet the four-pillar Steps to Zero plan goes further, recognising the urgency of addressing climate change.  Each pillar features ambitious new commitments, including:

  • Net Zero deliveries: Rolling out more electric vans for final mile deliveries, with 5,500 vans by Spring 2023
  • Net Zero operations: 100% renewable electricity across the Royal Mail business, reducing reliance on domestic flights and increasing the use of rail
  • Making circular happen: Transforming operations to embrace the circular economy and helping our customers do the same through our Parcel Collect service
  • Collaborating for action: Calling for standardised industry-wide reporting on CO2e per parcel so customers can make an informed decision, and collaborating with partners to speed up the roll out of electric and low emission vehicles across the UK 

Simon Thompson, Chief Executive Officer at Royal Mail, said: “A seven-day parcel service, to and from the customer’s door, delivered by a postie you trust and with the lowest emissions is the winning proposition. Environment is the next battleground for businesses and we are determined to lead. Setting an ambitious target to reduce parcel emissions to 50 gCO2e demonstrates our commitment to driving change and minimising our impact on the environment.

“We now merchandise the emissions per parcel for every delivery on the Royal Mail App, so customers can understand the impact of their order on the planet. We want to go much further and transform the way we collect, process and deliver the 10 billion letters and parcels we handle each year. All this means we can pull forward our net zero target by ten years to 2040.”

Royal Mail will report on Steps to Zero annually in June through the company’s ESG Report and the commitments will be assured by independent auditors.

Steps to 

Net Zero deliveries

Royal Mail’s 90,000 posties walk over a billion steps a day, contributing to our emissions per parcel being around half that of competitors. Royal Mail has an ambitious long-term plan to reduce this from 205gCO2e today to 50gCO2e. 

13% of Royal Mail’s overall emissions are from final mile deliveries and the goal is to reduce this to net zero through initiatives including:

  • By Spring 2023, Royal Mail will have over 5,500 electric vehicles (EVs). Alongside the EV roll-out, Royal Mail is investing £12.5m in charging infrastructure across the country in 2022/23.
  • Trialling new innovations for zero and reduced-emissions deliveries, including drones for remote locations, micro electric vehicles and a programme to optimise on-foot deliveries with a van delivering to a central point, serving a number of posties on foot. 

Net Zero operations

49% of Royal Mail’s emissions are from domestic operations, including transport networks and buildings. Measures to reduce consumption and increase efficiency include:

  • Moving to 100% renewable electricity across the business from 2022.
  • Reducing the number of domestic flights and increasing the amount of mail moved by rail.
  • Investing in self-generating renewables with Royal Mail’s largest solar panel installation going live at the new Midlands Parcel Hub in 2023 and looking at the potential for solar at over 200 sites across the country. 

Embracing the circular economy

Royal Mail’s aim is to transform its operations and behaviours to embrace circularity by enabling reuse models and reducing single use items including:

  • 25% reduction in waste by 2030.
  • Helping customers to embrace their own circular journey via Royal Mail’s Parcel Collect service.
  • Undertaking a strategic review of all Royal Mail products this year and trialling new innovations to reduce single use items such as rubber bands, changing the design of mail bags to eliminate cable ties and increasing the recycled content of plastic delivery bags. 

Collaborating for action

Royal Mail’s size, scale and reputation means it can play a positive role leading and championing change. Royal Mail is committed to supporting and educating its customers, employees and communities to transition to net zero and drive industry change through innovative partnerships and collaborations. Some of the steps the company is taking include:

  • Calling for industry-wide standardised reporting on CO2e per parcel for UK deliveries, so customers can make an informed decision. Not all parcel delivery companies publish their per parcel emissions and there is no standardised method for measurement.
  • Partnering with vehicle manufacturers to look at all commercial vehicles, from vans to articulated vehicles as well as new fuel types, not just electric.

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