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From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

City-Brand Collaboration for Sustainable Urban Logistics

Entered in Corporate-Community


Cities of all sizes are being challenged by overcrowding, increasing pollution and overtaxing of infrastructure. A recent United Nations report documents that more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. Changes in logistics will be more common in dense urban centers as local communities cope with growing congestion and companies develop new last-mile distribution models. An increasing number of cities around the world are opening a second front in the war against pollution and congestion – they are looking at urban logistics and searching for innovative new solutions. As a leader in global logistics, UPS works with cities to develop new package delivery solutions to help solve environmental and congestion challenges and contribute to a healthier quality of life.

Strategy and Execution

As more and more cities work to advance their sustainability goals in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating traffic, noise and air quality challenges, while making urban areas more accessible and pedestrian-friendly, UPS is teaming up to help deliver solutions for customers. To decrease congestion and pollution in urban centers, we're working with select cities to develop and install EcoHubs, which are mini-distribution centers. These hubs are brought into city centers once daily and UPS employees deliver packages from them by foot, bicycle or by using electrically-assisted cargo tricycles.

This program was first launched in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany, where UPS focused on developing a new and sustainable method of delivering goods to urban areas. We placed four containers at central locations in the city for interim storage of packages for UPS drivers. From these points, deliveries were made on foot or with specialized electronically-assisted cargo tricycles that ease traffic congestion and reduce emissions each working day.

Following the success of the pilot, the Hamburg program inspired the roll-out of eBikes in other cities, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which was introduced in November 2017. UPS's eBike effort helps the city meet its goals and aligns perfectly with the its Resilience Strategy OnePGH, which strives to make Pittsburgh a thriving 21st Century city that is livable for all.

Another recent EcoHub was launched in Dublin in 2017 to limit the amount of delivery vehicles operating in the city center and therefore ease congestion and pollution concerns. UPS used the hub as an opportunity to partner with members of the community by collaborating with the National College of Art and Design. We held a student competition to create an artwork design for the outside of the eco package hub, making it a more engaging part of the community.

The Hamburg, Pittsburgh and Dublin projects are just pieces of UPS's much broader sustainable urban logistics puzzle — one that includes electric vehicles, smart grids and other new technologies, innovations and problem-solving techniques that will redefine the nature of global commerce.


UPS's city delivery solutions yield many benefits for the cities in which we operate. First, UPS decreases urban congestion by being able to deliver many packages on foot, by bicycle or by electronically-assisted cargo tricycles, which take up less road space compared to delivery trucks or vans. Second, UPS helps cities reduce emissions, noise and damage to roadways. Finally, UPS helps cities develop a model for city-brand collaboration that can be used to inform all freight delivery practices and other environmental sustainability initiatives.


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