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Published on March 20th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Competing for Greener Deliveries

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March 20th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
This is a very interesting shipping company (of sorts) that has found a common-sense, yet uncommon, solution to tons (I mean, megatons) of unnecessary carbon emissions. Check out this useful guest post and keep Shiply in mind next time you need something shipped (if you’re in one of the serviced countries)!

green shipping

We’re all aware of the negative impact that road traffic has on the environment, and commonly hear about the innovations addressing the issue with respect to private vehicles. Great strides forward have been made in the shape of hybrid and electric cars, both of which get a great deal of coverage in the mainstream media, but commercial traffic receives less attention.

According to the International Transport Forum, road transport accounts for approximately 22% of CO2 output in developed countries, and haulage makes up one third of these emissions. In terms of the complete supply chain, transport alone is responsible for around half of all emissions.

Increases in online shopping mean that more and more deliveries are being made every day, and due to strict time constraints (and consumer demand), many vehicles end up making journeys only partially full. What’s more, many of these trucks and vans don’t have adequate reverse logistics plans.

Running on Empty

In the UK, 25% of truck journeys are made completely empty, and 50% only partially loaded! US trucks suffer the same problem — according to the National Private Truck Council, 28% of their fleets’ miles are empty, too.

Needless to say, the inefficiency of these journeys means a lot of wasted miles, and unnecessary tailpipe emissions. In the UK alone, the empty running of trucks results in an extra 36,000,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Better optimisation of delivery networks worldwide could result in carbon reductions of 124 megatons annually according to the World Economic Forum.

Going my way?

The empty vehicle problem was recognised by founder Robert Matthams when he discovered that a driver who delivered him a pool table would be making the return trip with a completely empty van; a wasted opportunity in anybody’s book.

As an online transport marketplace, Shiply helps users who need to move things find suitable delivery drivers who are ‘going there anyway’. Because vehicles are already running route close to pickups, they can slightly divert their journey instead of a separate dedicated delivery being run. This reduction in the number of vehicles on the road helps to avoid the associated carbon emissions.

Shiply is not only helping drivers fill loads; it is getting users a better deal on deliveries too. Trucks and vans that have spare capacity can afford to transport goods for less. This means that users get better price on moving services ranging from car transporters to home and office removals.

Items needing shipped, posted by Shiply users. The numbers on the far right indicate number of bids by shippers. The numbers to the right of delivery addresses indicate how many miles between pickup and delivery. (Screenshot of Shiply website.)

The Green Side

By matching up transporters with compatible consignments, Shiply helps to increase the amount of deliveries drivers can make per trip, meaning less wasted space and reductions in CO2 emissions.

To date, Shiply has saved around 34 million road miles and more than 12 million kg of CO2. By matching users all across Europe to more than 46,000 delivery drivers, Shiply is tackling the problems of empty lorries and vans one load at a time.

Shipping truck courtesy shutterstock.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

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