Person collecting a parcel

Health effects of air pollution

Exploring how parcel pick up points can improve air quality in cities

Delivery vans are a major polluter in Lambeth and Southwark. We’re exploring whether local, accessible parcel pick-up and drop-off points can reduce home delivery emissions and improve air quality and health.

Key info:

What are we doing together?

The online shopping boom is contributing to increased air pollution in London, with devastating consequences for people’s health.

More parcels being sent for out for home delivery means more miles driven by vans, increasing congestion and worsening air quality. And it is the last mile of home deliveries – between a local depot and people’s homes – that has the most significant impact on residential areas. 

Working with think tank Centre for London, we will explore the potential of accessible parcel pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) points in every neighbourhood to help to reduce air pollution in cities. PUDO points could be parcel shops, parcel lockers located in residential areas or in-store Click and Collect points.

If people are willing to choose an ‘active last mile’, walking or cycling to collect their parcels, it would make a big difference to air quality and congestion levels in urban communities.

Centre for London will partner with The Behavioural Insight Team to conduct research to test if and how online shoppers might be ‘nudged’ into choosing a local Click and Collect point over home delivery at checkouts. This will include trialling the effectiveness of messaging around convenience and environmental impact. The study will also investigate the type and price point of goods that consumers would send to PUDO points.

Centre for London will also consult with Lambeth and Southwark residents, via focus groups, to identify potential barriers to using PUDO points. All the data and insights from the project will be published in a report.

Aim of the partnership

We are funding this research to find out if there is an appetite among consumers to make the healthier, greener move to an active last mile for their parcels and, if there is, how best to meet this demand. Making the switch from home deliveries to using PUDO points could benefit the health of people in London, not only by reducing air pollution but also by encouraging people to walk and cycle.

We will also use the findings of the report to inform policymakers and businesses in the freight and retail sectors, raising awareness of the environmental benefits of out-of-home deliveries. We will present the business and economic advantages of this approach, which include reducing delivery costs associated with ‘the last mile’ and driving footfall to local high streets. 

Connection to our strategy

Identifying the main sources of air pollution in our place and working with businesses to find equitable solutions to reducing these emissions is a priority for our programme.

Freight and delivery services are a major source of air pollution in London. Building our evidence base and exploring ideas for how to cut the number of journeys and delivery van miles travelled in our city could significantly reduce damaging exposure to air pollution. 

Amandeep Singh Kellay

Want to find out more about this project?

Contact Portfolio Manager Amandeep Singh Kellay

Contact Amandeep