A new European standard helps reduce the environmental impact of postal services

As part of the green transition, and due to a growing awareness on environmental aspects among businesses and customers, an increasing number of organizations are engaged in monitoring and reducing their environmental impact. This commitment also targets some traditional sectors, which are evolving to better address their customers’ new green ambitions.

This is the case of a new standard, dedicated to postal services. EN 17837:2023 ‘Postal Services - Parcel Delivery Environmental Footprint - Methodology for calculation and declaration of GHG emissions and air pollutants of parcel logistics delivery services’ describes how to quantify and report greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions from parcel delivery services. 


In particular, EN 17837 sets out the methodology for quantifying greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions for each stage of a parcel delivery transport chain. It also outlines how to report emissions on a parcel basis, to support delivery service providers in developing their corporate ESG reporting and help them communicate clearly with their customers about their greenhouse gas emissions.

What does the standard change? 

This new standard is based on a methodology consistent with existing standards and guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions, such as ISO 14083 and the GLEC (Global Logistics Emissions Council) Framework. The standard advances existing work in this area by providing a methodology for allocating emissions at the parcel level rather than at the tonne-kilometre (t.km) level, which is the industry standard.  


In particular, EN 17837:2023 takes into consideration a key aspect of postal services: mail and parcel delivery differs from the wider freight transport sector in that operators transport a variety of lightweight shipments to many destinations. In this case, it is not weight that limits the number of parcels that can be loaded onto a vehicle, but the volume of those parcels. Volume is therefore the factor that influences the extent to which an operator can optimise vehicle loading and reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Based on this, EN 17837 provides the methodology for allocating emissions to an individual parcel based on its weight and volume. 

Why is it important? 

EN 17837:2023 paves the way for more granular reporting of greenhouse gas emissions for parcel delivery: this will provide more accurate information on emissions for users of parcel delivery services (i.e. shippers), as it will allow to quantify emissions based on an individual parcel rather than an average parcel passing through a service provider’s network. 


As such, EN 17837:2023 responds to an increased need for improved environmental reporting on the postal sector, driven by tightening environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure regulations, increased customer demand, and the rapid growth of e-commerce. 

What are the societal and economic benefits of this standard?

The aim of the standard is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions: more accurate information helps better localize hotspots of emissions in the parcel delivery chain and can support informed decision-making for effective emissions reduction measures. 


Furthermore, the standard also enables parcel service providers to improve the reporting of their emissions to customers (such as shippers):  as the information provided is specific to individual parcels rather than an average parcel, it can easily support shippers in their emissions reduction goals and ESG reporting requirements. 


EN 17837:2023 was developed by CEN/TC 331 ‘Postal services’, whose Secretariat is held by AFNOR, the French Standardization Association.


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