Net zero and clean air strategies need to go hand in hand

With the NHS setting out its commitment to deliver net zero emissions by 2040 and for the emissions it has influence over (in the supply chain) by 2045, it’s encouraging to see the healthcare and medical sector as having a key role to play in tackling the climate crisis. As one of the UK’s largest employers and one of the most globally renowned health providers, it’s incredibly important as we speed towards COP26 this November, that we’re getting this level of leadership and ambition.

But it’s not just climate change that makes net zero logistics important for the NHS, healthcare and medical sectors. Air pollution in cities is acute and on the rise. Its health implications are regularly verified by new research findings, with more and more grim statistics hitting the headlines each week.

Air quality: one of the most important public health issues of our time

Recently, new data has found that poor air quality increases the severity of mental illness, with small increases in air pollution linked to significantly worse outcomes. The new study by a team from Imperial College London and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry looked at data from 13,000 London residents, examining their contact with mental health services alongside estimates of air pollution at their homes. The results showed that a small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide- which is predominantly caused by diesel vehicle emissions- can lead to a “32% increase in the risk of needing community-based treatment and an 18% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital”.

As University of Bristol’s Joanne Newbury points out in The Guardian, “Air pollution is modifiable, and on a big scale as well, reducing population-level exposure. We know there are interventions that can be used, such as expanding low-emission zones. Mental health interventions at the individual level are actually quite difficult.” There’s a big incentive for the NHS to align its own activities towards better health outcomes for its patients. And that’s highly practical with a switch for medical couriers that use diesel vehicles to ones that operate using zero emission cargo bike logistics.

Another new study found that heart attacks rise with air pollution and earlier studies have shown heart disease, dementia, anxiety, depression and asthma are all heavily affected by the quality of air we breathe.

Air pollution is a public health issue; it’s essential that the organisation responsible for public health in the UK does what it can to contribute to cleaner air, with a healthier approach to healthcare logistics. In 2018, the Department for Transport reported that van traffic contributes 33% of all NOx arising from road transport and around 19 million tonnes of CO2. The NHS has calculated that its own transport emissions are responsible for 3.5% of all road travel in England, and around 4% of the total road transport system emissions comes from its business and fleet transport. There’s a big opportunity to cut GHG emissions and air pollutants at the same time by switching to zero emission cargo bike logistics in cities where zero emission alternatives are highly viable and where air quality is of a particular concern to the health of residents.

Photo credit: Jon Bradley, London, 2021

How viable are zero emission deliveries for the health, medical and science sectors?

How can healthcare organisations, from scientific laboratories, to surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals take action and start to make a positive contribution to clean air? Is it viable for medical deliveries to be done using zero emissions, when speed, security and temperature control are often crucial factors? We spoke to some of our medical, science and healthcare customers across the country to find out their experience of using Zedify’s healthcare courier service which predominantly uses cargo bikes.

Abcam are the leading global supplier of protein research tools for life scientists. For over 10 years, Zedify has provided deliveries across Cambridge, including temperature controlled items packed in dry ice and timecritical internal mail. Robert Treanor of Abcam shared with us what it is they love about using cargo bike logistics, “Our customers love the amazing speed of service we’re able to offer with this service. Zedify’s cargo bike deliveries represent us handsomely when delivering consignments.”

Eleanor Murray works for the NHS and the University of Glasgow, she uses Zedify Glasgow’s healthcare courier service by cargo bike, because we provide a “rapid and environmentally responsible service transporting time-sensitive collections and deliveries of blood samples for my research project.”

Michael Franklin are an independent chain of 11 pharmacies. Zedify provides home deliveries of prescriptions, including refrigerated and controlled drug packages, to patients 5 days a week. Their pharmacist, Prasas Shah, told us, “there were two major reasons why we decided to choose Zedify’s cargo bike service: cost and their zero emissions service. It’s great that drivers also check the number of deliveries they pick up and match the number of deliveries emailed over so there is no confusion. So far we have had great feedback from our patients and all the delivery staff are very friendly.”

Visage are a specialist dental lab creating ceramic dental pieces for dental surgeries across the UK. Zedify provides scheduled and on-demand time-sensitive deliveries to their customers across Glasgow. Marian Hendry there explained that, “having a reliable delivery partner is absolutely crucial to our business, where our customers rely on us to make deliveries on time. When we’re up against it and need something done urgently, the Zedify Glasgow team work hard to help us out.”

How do our medical and laboratory courier services work?

1) Make bookings and schedule regular drops via our smart tech platform

2) Your parcels are scheduled for same day, next day or regular scheduled slots

3) A Zedify courier collects your package on a cargo bike, trike or quad, using zero emissions

4) For temperature controlled packages, we follow your strict procedures

5) Time sensitive deliveries are scheduled to meet your exact timeslots

6) A Zedify courier delivers your parcel to your staff, patient or customer on cargo bike, trike or quad, using zero emissions

The top benefits of a cargo bike courier for the health, medical and science sectors

  1. Each of Zedify's cargo bikes save 7.05kg of deadly NOx every year

  2. Cargo bikes have been proven to be 60% faster in cities, helping your time sensitive deliveries arrive on time

  3. Cargo bikes also save 98% on CO2 emissions compared with a typical diesel van

  4. Cargo bike healthcare logistics help make our roads safer places for pedestrians and cyclists, helping to encourage more active travel and fewer accidents

  5. Zedify's cargo bike service is cost effective, reliable and friendly, with real Living Wage employed riders who provide a great experience at the doorstep

  6. Each of our medical courier service bikes, trikes and quads are fitted with locking cargo boxes and holdspaces, keeping your parcels secure during transit

  7. Zedify are experienced at delivering temperature controlled packages, so you can count on us to look after your delicate packages

Talk to one of our team today to find out more about our zero emission courier service for your healthcare, medical and science deliveries in cities.

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