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FedEx, GLS announce efforts for sustainable deliveries

Canadian branches of parcel companies push electric vehicles, clean transportation

Lion Electric's Lion6 electric truck that will be driven by GLS Canada. (Courtesy GLS Canada)

Courier companies FedEx Canada and GLS Canada have announced updates and new initiatives in their decarbonization efforts via electric vehicles, "clean" transportation options and other innovations to coincide with Earth Day.

FedEx Canada, based in Mississauga, is the Canadian branch of the U.S. delivery and transportation company.

Montreal-based GLS Canada, previously known as Dicom Transportation Group prior to its acquisition, is part of GLS Group. Its parent company is one of the largest self-reliant parcel services providers in Europe.

Both companies reiterated their commitments to low carbon operations. FedEx is seeking to achieve carbon-neutral operations by 2040 and GLS Canada is aiming for zero emissions by 2045.

GLS Canada marked a milestone with its first purchase of electric trucks for its direct operations.

“We know as a transportation company we have direct impact on our environment and communities. Any little bit that we can do to help alleviate that negative impact we have is really important,” Stacey Yunger, GLS Canada’s director of marketing, told SustainableBiz.

“Now, being part of the GLS Group, we are taking that first step and growing it so much quicker into so many more initiatives of what we can do to be more green and sustainable and make our business better.”

What GLS Canada is doing

GLS Canada purchased four Lion6 electric trucks from Canadian manufacturer Lion Electric to replace four diesel-fuelled trucks. They're forecast to save up to 400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

“For us it was important to encourage local companies. This is part of sustainability — so encouraging local purchases, less emissions from purchases, also from transportation of the trucks. We were happy to be able to work with Lion, that are in Quebec,” Melanie Camara, GLS Canada’s director of environment and sustainability, said during the interview.

They join a vehicle fleet of thousands of trucks across Canada owned by the company or its contractors.

Camara said GLS is also looking to electrify dozens of straight-body trucks as they are smaller and better suited for pickups and deliveries in cities.

Yunger said its owner-operator fleet has two electric trucks on road, with some independent contractors committing to purchasing more of the vehicles.

GLS Group plans for 100 per cent of its new transportation fleet to be zero- and low-emission vehicles by 2035.

In Montreal, the company received approval from the city for a grant of over $1 million to develop an Eco-Hub that will feature electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Camara said it will implement measures to reduce waste and boost building energy efficiency through LED lights and efficient heating.

Camara also laid out a personal stake in leading the company’s sustainability efforts: “I worked for Dicom before for 15 years, and I (rejoined) the company for this project. I have kids, eventually they’ll have kids, so it’s really important that we do our part as a company to do everything we can to reduce emissions.”

FedEx Canada’s latest results

In a release, FedEx Canada summarized its endeavours to date since unveiling its 2040 target for carbon-neutral operations.

FedEx targets converting its entire parcel pickup and delivery (PUD) fleet to electric and/or zero-tailpipe emissions vehicles by 2040. It targets 50 per cent of its global PUD vehicle purchases to be electric by 2025 and 100 per cent by 2030.

In 2020, FedEx Canada launched an electric cargo bike pilot in Toronto and claims to have “one of the largest fleets of e-bikes of any country in the FedEx global network.” FedEx Canada says the e-bike fleet has avoided 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide and travelled more than 50,000 kilometres.

It is also building charging infrastructure across its Canadian facilities, including 80 charging stations already built for its first electric delivery vans, which will begin arriving in the coming months.

FedEx also unveiled innovations to reduce its footprint in urban centres, such as the BrightDrop Trace Move in Toronto. The electric carts are said to help reduce traffic congestion, improve efficiency and reduce engine idling times for delivery vans and trucks.

To promote cleaner aviation, FedEx transitioned its fleet of B727 aircraft to B757s, which are up to 36 per cent more fuel efficient and have 20 per cent more payload capacity. Its global operations are exploring alternative fuels, aircraft modernization, fuel-saving programs and carbon capture solutions.

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