In planning since 2016, The Mayor of London’s initiative to help improve air quality will come into force from 8 April 2019. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be in place in central London and will require most vehicles including cars and vans to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily charge to travel within the area of the ULEZ. Once the zone is extended to the North Circular and South Circular, it will cover a huge area of London, and officials estimate 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will be affected per day.
Those businesses operating outside of the capital may be forgiven for believing that such measures simply won’t impact their business. But this is short-term thinking.
The fact is that whether such initiatives are driven by government legislation, or by public demand, there is a genuine and significant focus on all things green, lean and efficient. Customers – whether they are businesses buying from other businesses, or consumers – are increasingly influenced by environmental considerations. A green policy is rapidly moving from a corporate ‘nice to have’ towards becoming a critical strategic element of forward planning.
Certainly, those of us in the field of mailing, logistics and delivery are well aware of this attitudinal shift, and the industry is making great strides to address legacy challenges. The issue of plastics has attracted much attention recently and the forthcoming ULEZ legislaton will train the spotlight on transportation and air pollution. Our own vehicles have the cleanest possible engine types, and we are in the process of testing electric vehicles within the group.
Commentators suggest that consumer attitudes are beginning to mirror those already prevalent around such issues as food supply. Where food is concerned, there is a growing demand for transparency, a real thirst for knowledge around how produce is grown or reared and how it arrives at the store. Price and quality will always be essential considerations, but the issue of how companies embrace sustainability and demonstrate green initiatives across their portfolio is increasingly influential.
Translate this thinking to logistics and delivery, and customers will expect to understand how every business in the logistics chain is working towards sustainability and more environmentally-focused processes.
ULEZ is a London-centric initiative but it should also act as a spur for businesses across the UK. The focus on sustainability will only intensify, and its influence on buying decisions continues to rise up the decision-making ladder. Updating legacy processes is unlikely to be achievable overnight, but companies should certainly be demonstrating a commitment and energy to change.