Last mile delivery in Scotland

Commercial vehicle emissions present a significant challenge to Scotland achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2045. From 2012 to 2019, van and heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) emissions increased 25% and 4%, respectively.

The growth in van and heavy goods vehicle (HGV) numbers will worsen emissions, congestion and air pollution if left unchecked. In addition, an increase in commercial vehicle traffic in urban areas poses a safety challenge for other road users, especially those walking or wheeling.

The number of last mile deliveries has been increasing for some time because of the growth in online shopping. To help Transport Scotland (TS) improve its understanding of ‘last mile’ this project aimed to:

  1. Develop a profile of last mile delivery in Scotland
  2. Develop a high-level estimate of GHG emissions from last mile deliveries in Scotland.
  3. Understand what activities are underway in other jurisdictions to reduce emissions from this source.
  4. Collate details of commitments made by businesses operating in Scotland to reduce last mile emissions.
  • Last mile vehicles comprise 2.7% of all vehicles (cars, LCVs and HGVs) in Scotland.
  • Last mile mileage is 4.7% of total miles covered by cars, LCVs, and HGVs in Scotland.
  • Last mile goods moved equates to 9.2% of all goods moved.
  • Last mile emissions comprise an estimated 6.6% of all road transport emissions in Scotland.
  • Based on a review of initiatives in other jurisdictions no examples of specific policies were identified that specifically target last mile deliveries.  The examples typically involve a fleet working with a city municipality, and potentially other stakeholders, to develop a distinct project aimed at reducing emissions from last mile deliveries.
  • A number of large UK-wide businesses have made public commitments to tackle emissions from their home delivery vehicle fleets. These commitment include the roll out of electric vans, ending the use of fossil fuels vehicles across their fleets and use of cargo bikes for deliveries.

Outputs will be useful for TS to help it engage with the freight and logistics industry, identifying challenges and opportunities for decarbonisation. Findings will also help local authorities and fleet operators, by providing a sample of information on commitments made by businesses in Scotland to improve sustainability, and visibility of innovative schemes outside Scotland, which could potentially be replicated here.