By: Josué C, Velázquez-Martínez, Director, MIT Sustainable Logistics Initiative, Karla M. Gámez-Pérez, Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Sustainable Logistics Initiative, Ken Cottrill, Editorial Director, MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics.

The recent announcement by UPS that it will start delivering packages on Sundays next year is another sign of the inexorable growth of e-commerce — and the number of delivery trucks on the roads. More vehicles equal more fuel consumed and more CO2 emitted, increasing the pressure on companies to invest in fuel efficiency technology.

Research at the MIT Sustainable Logistics initiative shows that investing in greener trucks is not the only way to shrink the carbon footprint of the last mile. Companies can cut CO2 emissions as well as fuel bills by analyzing critical features of their delivery operations such as the types of vehicles used, where vehicles operate, and the topography of routes, and reallocating delivery capacity.

Coppel, one of Mexico’s largest retailers, piloted the findings and achieved significant savings. The company now plans to roll out a more ambitious program based on the research.

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