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Toward sustainability with the coordinated freight distribution of municipal goods

Björklund, Maria, Gustafsson, Sara
Journal of cleaner production 2015 v.98 pp. 194-204
Internet, carbon dioxide, cities, environmental impact, freight, greenhouse gas emissions, interviews, sustainable development, urban areas, Sweden
Municipalities play an important role in the development of sustainable societies, particularly by way of public procurement. Within this area, municipal governments can significantly impact the environment by placing environment-conscious demands on the products and services purchased. At the same time, municipalities are largely responsible when it comes to decreasing the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions in urban areas: road transport. Yet, while much has been done to curb the environmental impact of passenger transport, freight transport seems to have been nearly forgotten. Some Swedish municipalities have set a good example by coordinating the distribution of goods to their facilities and by separating the purchases of goods from those of distribution services. Although municipalities claim that cooperation and knowledge dissemination are central to developing sustainability management, it remains unclear how such should be applied to coordinated urban freight distribution. This paper thus aims to describe and analyse activities in Swedish municipalities' developmental processes of promoting the coordinated freight distribution of goods, in order to identify which activities of knowledge dissemination and collaboration should be prioritised. Empirical data were gathered from interviews, the Internet, and brochures for initiatives taken by Swedish municipalities. Results indicate that the initiatives demonstrate several similarities and differences, as well as provide examples of how knowledge can be integrated into municipal organisation. Above all, results indicate a need for increased collaboration among actors to make freight transport in Swedish cities more efficient, as well as that increased knowledge transfer can help municipalities to overcome several of their weaknesses.