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Sustainability on track: what we’ve achieved to date

News roundup

Econnections innovation programme

How PostNL, bol.com, IKEA, Google Cloud, Mollie and Deloitte are making e-commerce more sustainable together with scale-up companies.

Sustainable city logistics

How PostNL reduces the pressure on city centres

Filling up on frying fat?

By getting its vehicles to run on renewable fuels, PostNL is making great strides towards emission-free delivery.

Sustainability on track: what we’ve achieved to date

Sustainability on track: what we’ve achieved to date

We’ve set ourselves the ambitious goal of delivering all letters and parcels emission-free in the last mile in the Benelux countries by 2030 at the very latest. An interim goal is to deliver emission-free in 25 Dutch city centres by 2025. So how will we achieve this?

Green products and services

We also assist our customers with our own products and services, helping to make the dispatch and delivery chain as sustainable as we possibly can. A case in point is our “fashion pack”, the smart parcel that can always be delivered whether consumers are home or not. And if the item isn’t what they’re looking for, they can simply use the same packaging to return it. We also collect small e-waste for web stores that sell electronics. Simply return your old device via PostNL and we recycle it or re-process it in a sustainable way.

Network efficiency

As a logistics company in our value chain, we’re looking to operate efficiently and not clock up any unnecessary kilometres. We achieve this by collaborating more closely in the chain, by bundling deliveries that allow our postmen and women to fetch and deliver everything on their routes, and by promoting solutions such as less air in packaging and delivery at PostNL points. Fewer kilometres also mean lower costs and emissions – and we’re helping to make cities easier to get around at the same time.

Clean kilometres

Our aim is to make every single one of our kilometres as economical and green as we can. Our postmen and women have been doing their jobs on foot or by bike – or e-bike nowadays – for as long as we remember. We drive fuel-efficient cars for the other kilometres, ask our drivers to drive with consideration for the environment and use green gas and electric vehicles. We’re talking with airlines about similarly reducing their carbon emissions, for instance by selecting the flights on which we have our parcels transported. We make large-scale use of biogas in our smaller trucks and vans, while we’re also trialling HVO100, a fossil-free diesel fuel emitting 90% less carbon. Our plan is to sizeably upscale use of this environmentally friendly diesel in the years ahead. We’re really proud to be one of the first companies in the Netherlands fuelling our fleet this way!

Offsetting remaining carbon emissions

Green products and services, an efficient network, clean kilometres, and sustainable buildings and facilities: our focus is very much on reducing our carbon emissions, something we can really only achieve together with our customers and delivery partners. All of this requires fundamental changes – changes that we’re investing in heavily. That said, we can’t solve every issue overnight, however much we’d like to. And so we offset any emissions we cannot yet reduce by investing in Gold Standard Climate+ projects. By fully offsetting our remaining carbon emissions, we’re reducing our total emissions to “net zero”. Pursuing our objectives and sustainability plans means that we’ll have to do less and less offsetting over time.

Making buildings and facilities more sustainable

Our new parcel sorting centres are among the Netherlands’ most sustainable commercial buildings, and we’re looking to make all our future buildings and depots carbon-neutral or even carbon-positive. We work as sustainably and efficiently as possible at all our various locations, putting in place LED lighting and reducing our energy consumption. On average, we generate 43% of our parcel sorting centres’ power from solar panel installations. Meanwhile, over one-quarter of our parcel sorting centres have been awarded the BREEAM sustainability certificate for sustainable buildings with a minimum environmental impact. Our aim is to have all our sorting centres BREEAM-certified soon.

Green Bond Report

2020 saw the release of our first Green Bond Report, providing investors and other interested parties with details on how the proceeds of our green bond are used, and the related environmental impact. We’re using the green bond proceeds to finance new and existing green projects, making a meaningful contribution to two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: “Decent work and economic growth” and “Climate action”.

Lastly, everything we do, we do together – with our people, customers, partners and suppliers. We believe in making our whole value chain sustainable – good for us, good for them and good for environment and climate.

Biodiversity and sustainable forestry management

We aim to prevent or minimise negative environmental effects as much as possible. And so we help to protect nature and commit to promoting biodiversity and sustainable forestry. One way in which we do this is by factoring in biodiversity aspects in our location planning and the development of our buildings. We have improved biodiversity around our buildings by making wildlife provisions. Meanwhile, all our sorting centres meet the BREAAM sustainability requirements and our focus on reducing carbon, NOx and particulate matter also helps to reduce the negative impact on biodiversity. And we only use FSC-certified products to help call a halt to deforestation.

Circularity and waste processing

To reduce our environmental footprint and do our bit for the transition to a sustainable, circular economy, we are committed to sustainable use of raw materials. That is to say that we try not to use raw materials wherever we can and, if we must, to reduce their consumption whenever possible – restricting emissions and waste in the process. At our international sorting centre in The Hague, for instance, we use reusable roll container bags, saving some 12 kilometres in sealing foil every day. And for our customers we collect materials such as textiles and electronic waste for recycling.

Our aim is to achieve full cradle-to-cradle reuse of raw materials, but unfortunately some waste flows are still inevitable at this point in time. The biggest of them – that of paper and cardboard – is fully recycled, while we’re processing 1,725 tonnes of material to energy recovery. Which leaves us with a small category of 460 tonnes of building, demolition and residual waste. We have no information on how our waste processor has dealt with this.

Waste processing method (x 1,000kg)20202021
Reused/recycled1,6251,715
Processed for energy generation1,6091,725
Unknown425460
Total3,6593,900

External recognition

Accountability about our performance is very important to us, and we actively seek certification on the basis of stringent ISO quality and environmental standards. Every year, we also report on our sustainability progress in our annual report.

Emission-free deliveries in the last mile

Emission-free deliveries in the last mile

  • Sustainable logistics
  • Network efficiency
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Sustainable buildings
  • Sustainable fuels