An electric van designed for La Poste, on display at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Photo: Alex Davies
Established in 1576, the French post office is the oldest mail delivery system in the world and one of the largest employers in France. Now, it's going green. La Poste has made sustainability a major goal for the next several years, with its sights set on serious carbon output reduction. To make it happen, the organization is developing a fleet of electric vehicles adapted to the varying needs of urban, suburban and rural mail delivery. The goal? Have 10,000 of them in use by 2011.
This vehicle was making its deliveries on a street closed to automobile traffic, in Orléans. Photo: Alex Davies
For the less crowded routes, there's the van (first photo). For denser areas, there's the smaller, more versatile, not-quite-a-car (pictured above). Even routes that are served by bicycles are getting a makeover: La Poste plans on having 8,000 employees making their rounds on electric-assisted bikes by the end of the year. And on the tightest city streets where even two wheels are too many, French postal workers are going it on foot, often assisted by electric trolleys.
But using electric vehicles isn't the only approach to reducing carbon output. By the end of 2009, La Poste had trained nearly 60,000 employees in the ways of eco-driving. It's a method UPS has been using for years, cutting fuel use by favoring right turns, keeping the engine from idling, and keeping the air conditioning off. Since implementing training, La Poste has recorded a remarkable 15% drop in fuel consumption.
To top off its efforts, La Poste is conducting energy audits of all its buildings to improve efficiency, and is aiming to use paper made exclusively from sustainably-managed forests by 2012. It's a lofty goal, but considering the progress they've made on the electric vehicle front, nothing should be ruled out.
More on greening mail delivery:
Royally Stupid? Brits Dump Bicycle Mail Delivery, While London Says Yes to Bixi
Chrysler Unveils Electric Minivan for US Postal Service
Cutting Saturday Postal Delivery Would Reduce GHG Emissions