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STATUS: In Progress YEAR: 2018 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health CENTER: MetroFreight

A new look at the environmental assessment of logistics sprawl Part 2

Project Summary

This modeling chain has been tested with real data on the Paris “Ile-de-France” (IdF) region, for the year 2012. Economic establishments in IdF induced around 890,000 freight trips per day. Following Wardrop’s equilibrium principles, we have estimated that LGVs and HGVs correspond to 7.8% of total distances traveled in IdF. In addition, the more densely populated the areas, the higher the flows of freight vehicles and the lower the mean vehicles’ speed. Lastly, the share of CO2, NOx and PM10 emissions due to freight vehicles is at least 2.5 times larger than the share of LGVs and HGVs in the regional traffic. Our estimates made explicit that the contribution of freight vehicles to the regional air pollution is larger in the central areas of IdF, where more individuals are exposed and impacted. Crossing the traffic information with the official marginal external costs of air pollution in France, the environmental social cost of freight traffic in IdF corresponds to 0.4% of the regional GDP.

Built on the same methodology, this research extends the environmental assessment of freight activities in IdF towards two directions: First, we enjoy new socioeconomic data and we can duplicate the whole calculations for years 2006 and 2015. Second, we are now able to isolate the specific contribution of warehousing and wholesale activities to the regional traffic and to the corresponding pollutants emissions. Put differently, this research is an original attempt to study the environmental impact of any potential “logistics sprawl” (LS) that may have occurred in the Paris region over 2006-2015.

In particular, this analysis aims to consider changes in all factors affecting the emissions of vehicles linked to logistics activities in the Paris region: the number of logistics firms in IdF and their volumes of daily operations, the geographical locations of warehouses and of the goods’ receivers, the total distances travelled by LGVs and HGVs, the technologies of vehicles’ engines, the travel speeds of LGVs and HGVs linked to logistics firms, the places where the kilometers driven by logistics-related vehicles are realized and the density of inhabitants harmed by the pollutants emissions.  

Our preliminary results are the following:

  • The size of the logistics sector (broadly defined by warehousing and wholesale activities) remained relatively stable over 2006-2015, as opposed to the rest of activities in IdF which faced a significant growth in both the number of jobs and firms;
  • Contrasting the evolution of households’, logistics jobs’ and other jobs’ locations (with respect to Paris center), it is reasonable to conclude that one LS has effectively occurred over 2006-2015, even if moderately: whereas other jobs (slightly) went back towards Paris during the last decade (20 meters closer from “Notre-Dame” church), the logistics jobs have moved away from the agglomeration center (300 meters), and even more than the inhabitants have (200 meters);
  • Given the increased need of logistics activities, linked to the growth of the regional activity, individual logistics firms show, on the average, a higher “generation coefficient”: 24.1 goods’ movements per week in 2015 vs. 23.2 operations per week in 2006 (by contrast, the generation coefficient of other firms decreased during the last decade, from 4.4 to 3.9);
  • These evolutions thus imply that the weekly volume of freight movements linked to logistics firms increased from 1.24M to 1.37M, the growth being higher in outer-suburbs than in central Paris;
  • Other calculations (freight flows distribution, traffic assignment model, pollutants emissions, exposure indicator) are currently in-progress.


Martin Koning
Senior Researcher, Economics
14-20 boulevard Newton, Cite Descartes
Marne la Vallee cedex 2, 77447
[email protected]


Nicolas Coulombel
Senior Researcher


[email protected]