Despite Austrians receiving more and more parcels every year, by converting its fleet, Austrian Post AG is still managing to reduce its emissions. Daniel-Sebastian Mühlbach, Head of CSR & Environmental Management, and Paul Janacek, Head of Group Vehicle Fleet at Austrian Post tell us how.
Striving to Meet Ambitious Climate Targets to Increase Energy Efficiency.
Due to the increasing importance of sustainability and the company’s integrated corporate and sustainability strategy, Austrian Post is more and more incorporating ESG into its risk management strategy, as well as the requirements of NaDiVeG (the sustainability and diversity improvement act), EU taxonomy regulation, and the necessities set out by the TCFD (the task force for climate related financial disclosures). As such, this approach identifies risks and opportunities arising from sustainability and the climate crisis at an early stage, so that the strategic orientation of the company and the achievement of corporate goals can be supported by appropriate measures.
To minimise the impact of climate change risks, we have been setting ourselves ambitious climate targets for more than a decade to successively increase our energy efficiency. Since 2017, we have been submitting a science-based climate target of limiting global warming to 2°c to the science-based targets initiative. At the beginning of 2022 we amended this submission by committing to a new 1.5°c CO2 reduction target by 2030, and net zero 2040. We are thus pledging ourselves to the targets of UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement.
Green and Efficient Mobility
For Austrian Post, the transport sector is the biggest lever for avoiding and reducing CO2 emissions. Every year, our delivery staff deliver around five billion items to about 4.8 million private households and companies in Austria. On their delivery routes, they circle the globe several times – on foot and by bicycle, but also by moped, car and truck. We are therefore working hard to make our transport as environmentally friendly as possible.
Every day, Austrian Post uses thousands of vehicles, so when it comes to buying new ones, our focus is very much on how environmentally friendly they are: since spring 2022, we have only purchased e-vehicles to deliver the post in Austria.
Use of Alternative Drives: Achievements to Shout About
But we’re not stopping there, we have set ourselves a clear ecological goal: By 2030, the entire delivery of all letters, parcels, advertising mail, and print media in Austria will be carried out by electric vehicles or by emission-free means. We are being supported in achieving this by various public funding programmes. At present, the share of electric vehicles in delivery at Austrian Post already exceeds 30 per cent and is being successively increased. We currently have 3,039 e-vehicles, including 1,183 single-track and special vehicles (quads and trikes), and 1,856 e-cars. This makes us the largest e-fleet operator in Austria. In the Post Group, 3,121 electric vehicles were in use in 2022.
Since autumn 2021, in the provincial capital of Graz, all letter and parcel deliveries have been emission-free. Here, we have completely dispensed with fossil fuels. No more conventional mopeds or cars are used, only muscle power and electrical energy. To achieve this goal, we have put more than 100 new e-vehicles and e-charging stations into operation. E-package transporters with correspondingly large loading volumes are also being used for the first time.
In 2023 and 2024, respectively, the provincial capitals of Innsbruck and Salzburg are also scheduled for conversion to emission-free delivery. This will require another 200 or so e-vehicles and charging facilities. In Vienna, the go-ahead for emission-free parcel delivery has already been given – by the end of 2022, we had 50 e-parcel transporters in operation. In total, more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles will be procured in 2023.
Many are probably wondering where the electricity supply comes from for such a large e-fleet. The simple answer is, we either generate the electrical energy required to operate the e-vehicles ourselves through photovoltaic systems, or we exclusively purchase green electricity from Austria.
Fleet Optimisation in Freight Transport
The rejuvenation of the vehicle fleet and the use of modern technologies have been a focus for quite some time – with regards to freight transport, Austrian Post has done a lot in recent years to protect the environment and the climate. The entire transport logistics fleet is equipped with the most modern EURO-6 emissions technology available on the market. In 2022, 13 new trucks with engines which are extremely efficient and low in pollutants were purchased. The interaction of highly effective catalytic converters, the additive AdBlue, and closed particulate filters reduces their emission of soot particles and fine dust from the engine.
To encourage our hauliers to use a modern and environmentally friendly fleet, we have adjusted our remuneration accordingly. For example, we only pay the tolls incurred for road use to the extent of the best possible emission category and thus motivate them to use modern truck fleets.
New Technologies in Test Operation
In 2020, as a test, we installed for the first-time solar panels on three trucks in our fleet. In 2021, two more solar panels were fixed on trucks with a chassis for swap bodies. The energy generated is fed into the vehicle battery, reducing fuel consumption, and lowering CO2 emissions. For the future, we are looking at other systems from alternative suppliers to finding an even more efficient system. Since 2021, we have been operating our first liquefied natural gas (LNG) truck. In partnership with the CNL (the Council for Sustainable Logistics), we have also been exploring other avenues. We used an electrically powered truck in a one-month test on a route driven several times a day in Vienna. This test provided valuable insights for the future use of e-trucks. We already have six trucks in our fleet operating with Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO). This is a renewable fuel that can be produced from waste, fats, vegetable residues, and vegetable oils. What makes this even better is that HVO can be used in diesel engines without technical conversion and according to the manufacturer, up to 90 percent of CO2 emissions can be saved over the product’s life cycle compared to diesel.
During the three months from July to September 2023, we deployed three HVO-fuelled Post trucks in each of the Vienna and Graz metropolitan areas. The vehicles were used on daily postal routes between logistics centres, delivery bases, and post offices and transported parcels, advertising mail, letters, and print media. During the test period, we determined the driving characteristics, fuel consumption, and the actual achievable CO2 savings. The trucks were refuelled in Graz and Vienna with fuel from Eni Sustainable Mobility and Biofuel Express at filling stations with their own HVO dispensers.
The HVO fuel used by Austrian Post is subject to the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). It aims to ensure that biofuels have no negative impact on food production, the environment or social sustainability.
Outlook: Alternative Drives in Austrian Post’s Transport Logistics.
In 2020 and 2021, we signed letters of intent with OMV and Wien Energie for the use of green hydrogen in heavy-duty transport: an important milestone for climate protection. The focus is on the procurement of green hydrogen, the development of the necessary infrastructure, and the integration of fuel cell trucks into our fleet. In addition, Austrian Post is represented nationally in various initiatives and other consortia in the field of hydrogen through Transport Logistics. Together with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, various ministries, and other renowned national and international companies from the fields of industry, energy, freight forwarding, and logistics, we are focusing our attention on sustainable and environmentally friendly change in heavy goods transport through alternative drive systems and synthetic fuels (e-fuels).
On the way to emission-free heavy goods transport, Austrian Post would like to bring further future technologies onto domestic roads and test them as quickly as possible. Within the framework of the “Emission-free Commercial Vehicles and Infrastructure (ENIN)” funding programme of the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Austrian Post has therefore submitted and received funding applications for a total of four emission-free trucks.
The first funding submission involves the testing of two e-trucks. These are to replace two diesel trucks that currently commute around the clock seven days a week between the logistics centre in Vienna-Inzersdorf and Vienna-Schwechat Airport. A dedicated fast-charging station will be installed on the logistics centre’s premises so that the vehicles can be back on the road quickly. Depending on the funding decision and the delivery time of the vehicles, Austrian Post expects the vehicles to be in use in the second quarter of 2024.
The focus of the second funding submission is the testing of two hydrogen trucks. The route planning is done along roads with existing green hydrogen filling stations, which are currently available in Tyrol and Vienna. Further green hydrogen filling stations are already being planned and will soon cover all the main traffic routes in the country. With an expected range of around 400 kilometres per refuelling, and the existing filling stations, the hydrogen trucks can be used on all postal routes throughout Austria. Due to the long delivery times and the currently still scarce supply of green hydrogen, the first two postal hydrogen trucks are expected to be deployed by the end of 2024.
About the Authors:
Head of CSR & Environmental Management, Österreichische Post AG
Daniel-Sebastian studied at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, followed by a course in environmental management and ecotoxicology at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien. He started as a Sustainability Consultant at thinkstep, with later positions at PostEurop and ISA Lille. He has been working for Österreichische Post AG since 2013 and, as Head of CSR and Environmental Management, is responsible for the sustainability activities of the entire Group.
Head of Group Vehicle Fleet, Österreichische Post AG
Paul was educated at the Rotterdam School of Management. He started his career at T-Mobile Austria in the finance and audit department, before moving to Group Customer Finance at Deutsche Telekom AG. Since 2015, Paul has been working at Österreichische Post AG, where he is head of the Group fleet responsible for over 10,000 vehicles and is in charge of the conversion to e-mobility.
Head of CSR & Environmental Management, Austrian Post AG
Head of Group Vehicle Fleet, Austrian Post AG
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