Today there exists more than one mail and parcel services to distribute deliveries. I wonder about sustainability effects, especially when you receive several deliveries a day. When everybody has to pass one or more central delivery point(s) every day, home deliveries doesn't seem to be better.

The question is not related to the costs which have to be borne either by postal services or the recipients.

  • One thing that's becoming more common in the US is for packages from private carriers (UPS, FedEx, DHL) to be handed over to the federal carrier (USPS) for "last mile" delivery. This limits the number of trucks driving around the same neighborhoods. – LShaver May 2 at 15:24
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    Your third sentence contains a huge assumption. I work from home. So do most people I happen to know. I don't pass a central delivery point, or any point outside my home, every week never mind every day. Whether I am the norm or the people you imagine are, you need some actual numbers and data about the trips people normally take. – Kate Gregory May 8 at 21:12

Not everybody leaves their home every day - or drives past the same pickup-place every time they leave their home. Reasons are numberable and not really point of the discussion.

Basically, yes, there could be some positive ecological effect from requiring customers to pick up their purchases. On the other hand, additional traffic may be created by customers having to drive longer ways or by creating extra journeys from people who wouldn't have left their homes otherwise.

A reasonable choice would be the last mile delivery by only one vehicle/service. Packages from all carriers would be collected at a local location and then distributed by one vehicle per area. Maybe delivery areas would get smaller, maybe you'd have to wait for your package a day longer.

The best choice - at least in urban areas - would be the use of large cargo bikes operating from depots within the city quarters. This is already tested in several European cities.

  • Another option would be for package recipients to notify the carriers if they wanted to pick up their packages from the local distribution point themselves. Or perhaps an app which would notify customers of packages available when they're driving in the direction of the depot. – LShaver Nov 27 at 15:29
  • First option might result in rather complicated, addtional work for the carriers - and unsatisfied customers. Second option would require everyone to possess and successfully operate a smartphone - excluding a rather long list of people. Any solution should - in my opinion - rather refrain from requiring additional effort for the customers or complicated communications between customers and carrier while reducing the environmental impact. – Erik Nov 27 at 15:33
  • Why not just an "opt-in" system? This way the early adopters could get their packages sooner, and the carriers could reduce their costs and carbon footprint. The U.S. postal service currently offers Informed Delivery which lets me see a scanned image of mail I'm receiving each day. With this technology, notifying me when I drive by the post office of mail that's available for me to pick up wouldn't be a big leap. – LShaver Nov 27 at 15:54
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    Here in The Netherlands letters and newspapers are delivered per bike, at least in cities (see for example cdn.easyapps.nl/pictures/000/000/000/112/832/035_640x480.jpg). This definitely beats pick-up from a central-point in terms of CO2 emissions. In more remote areas scooters or cars are used, but small electric vehicles are slowly starting to become more common. – THelper Nov 28 at 8:17

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