PostNL Makes Sustainability Gains by Innovating along the Logistics Chain

By Lars Pruijn (PostNL), PostNL
02:13 PM, June 23, 2015

PostNL is the national postal company of the Netherlands and the leading mail and parcels deliverer in the Benelux region. In recent years, the growth of e-commerce has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of parcels being sent domestically and internationally. As volume growth approached levels where the company’s logistical infrastructure would have been unable to cope, the company launched a program to renew the entire logistics chain of its parcel operations. Called the New Logistics Infrastructure (NLI) program, PostNL opened the first of 18 new distribution depots in 2011. With all depots due to be operational by the end of 2015, the program has introduced cutting-edge innovations along the company’s parcel infrastructure, leading to major efficiency and sustainability improvements.

In recent years we have redesigned and upgraded our operational infrastructure through the NLI program. By combining sorting and distribution activities in 18 hybrid depots throughout the Netherlands, we have expanded our capacity and introduced efficiency and sustainability benefits, enabling us to lower our energy requirements and CO2 output, provide better service to customers, and offer our employees a more attractive working environment.

Cutting energy use

One of the main innovations within our new distribution depots was the introduction of state-of-the-art sorting machines, which use electromagnetic and induction technologies to reduce friction during operation. This results in huge efficiency benefits, with the machines using 75 percent less energy than those they replaced, cutting our electricity needs, CO2 output, and costs.

At the same time, we put a great deal of effort into creating sorting depots that had more daylight than the old depots. By making one wall of each depot transparent, and adding windows in the ceilings, we created environments that are bathed in natural light during the day. The depots’ lighting is connected to automatic sensors, which dim or brighten the lights based on the intensity of light from outside. Combined, these changes reduce our electricity needs and create a healthier, more attractive working environment.

Project start
The Netherlands
Contact person
Lars Pruijn

Project benefit

  • Saving energy
  • Cutting CO2 emissions
  • Improving efficiency
Anti-Corruption -
Business & Peace -
Development -
Environment X
Financial Markets -
Implementing UNGC Principles in your Corporate CSR Management -
Human Rights -
Labour Standards -
Local Networks -
Advocacy of global issues -
Business opportunities in low income communities/countries -
Project funding -
Provision of goods X
Provision of services/personal -
Standards and guidelines development X

Improving loading efficiency

Each morning, a well-choreographed routine takes place at our NLI facilities. Around 150 distribution vans wait outside each depot, preparing to park against one of the 50 distribution docks built into the side of the building. Once parked against the loading dock, a parcel sorter extends from within the depot into the distribution van. This means that the delivery driver is able to load the parcels directly onto the van’s shelves, resulting in improved ergonomics and a better working environment. This also saves time and makes the process more efficient.

One challenge we faced was how to prevent the 50 large distribution docks, which are open during the loading process, from losing warm air from within the depot. To overcome this, we designed a seal that fits between the van and the sorter, minimizing the loss of heat from within the building, saving heat and energy.


Efficiency improvements to the loading system have resulted in time savings of around 30 minutes per delivery route per day. With around 2,600 distribution routes in the Netherlands, we save around 1,300 worker-hours per day. In the evenings and overnight, meanwhile, we are now transporting parcels between the NLI depots via three central hubs. This enables us to optimize the transport process. Combined, these improvements have reduced our CO2 emissions drastically as well as cut costs.

One of our goals is to develop sustainable solutions whenever possible, including for our vehicles, buildings, and processes. The NLI program brought together developments in all these areas, contributing to our sustainability agenda while improving customer service and reducing costs.

About the Authors
Pruijn, Lars

 Lars Pruijn manages projects in logistics strategy at PostNL.


PostNL is a mail, parcel and e-commerce corporation with operations in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. It is listed at Euronext Amsterdam. Formerly a subsidiary of TNT N.V., it became an independent company upon TNT's demerger in May 2011. 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
Post Comment

Write a comment about this page

Your comments are provided by your own free will and you take sole responsibility for any direct or indirect liability. In order to maintain the highest discussion quality, all comments will be reviewed by our editors. You hereby provide us with an irrevocable, unlimited, and global license for no consideration to use, reuse, delete or publish comments in accordance with our Community Guidelines.





CSR Manager Logo


















About Us // Privacy Policy // Copyright Information // Legal Disclaimer // Contact

Copyright © 2012-2018 macondo publishing GmbH. All rights reserved.
The CSR Academy is an independent learning platform of the macondo publishing group.