Amsterdam's Sustainable Food Delivery Strategy

Amsterdam’s urban food distribution initiative will reduce emissions while supporting locally-sourced produce. What sustainability measures are implemented in your community?

What Happened?
Amsterdam is implementing new strategies to reduce emissions while maintaining efficient transport of food products to consumers. The urban food distribution initiative is part of a larger push to leverage technology for smart, environmentally-conscious sustainability in all transport.

The Amsterdam City Council announced a food vision strategy designed to deliver food across its urban distribution network. The goal is to create a more sustainable food system by moving the items with cleaner vehicles on more efficient routes. Amsterdam has 15 million annual food miles - where distributors transport items from producers to retailers - that have become sources of traffic congestion. To reduce the traffic levels and increase sustainability, the food system must do more than add electric cars to the process, the Guardian reported.

In response, many organizations, public-private partnerships and startups have launched food delivery systems that offer zero-emissions transport of food items throughout the city from locally-sourced providers. The initiatives use solar-powered electric tricycles to connect local food producers to retailers for faster delivery and increased access to locally-grown produce.

Many of these delivery systems will transport food from nearby farms directly to supermarkets, businesses and individual households. Because the overhead costs are so low, the urban delivery system is gaining popularity and helping to cut down on roadway congestion, the Guardian reported.

The food system is based out of transportation hubs where food is collected and sent out for delivery. The e-trikes are especially effective in cutting emissions while making it easier to navigate ancient city designs – like Amsterdam’s – with small roadways not built for large trucks.

Call for Sustainability
A desire to reduce energy costs and consumption, without limiting economic competitiveness, is not exclusive to the public sector. In fact, the majority of small and medium-sized businesses are looking for more sustainable modes of operations, but are often hindered by costs. Municipalities that work proactively with businesses to achieve these goals will likely attract more economic development.

The Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey found 52 percent of SMBs are not satisfied with current levels of sustainability, while 65 percent are committed to increasing environmentally-conscious activities. In addition:

  • 60 percent reported cost reduction and company values drive investment in sustainability
  • 60 percent cited reducing costs as the largest adoption driver for sustainable policies
  • 64 percent said paying additional costs was a barrier of entry for sustainable business practices
  • 72 percent of women are committed to increasing sustainable business activities, compared to 62 percent of men

The study indicated SMBs with more information on the ROI of sustainable business practices will invest in green efforts and policies moving forward.

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers SMBs with a library of resources on sustainable business best practices such as:

  • Going paperless
  • Reducing air pollution
  • Tapping into renewable energy
  • Developing with green building designs
  • Conserving water
  • Reducing waste

When businesses have information on how to operate more efficiently, they can implement tactics and start saving money. These savings can be reinvested in the business to further spur job growth and economic activity.

Sustainability on the Brain
Gov1 has reported on several initiatives focused on improving sustainability that also, therefore, create a positive effect on economic activity.


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