A key principle of City Eco Lab was to focus on live projects and enterprises rather than on good ideas in abstract.
The city’s dynamic new courier company, Les Coursiers Verts (The Green Courier Company), took us at our word and relocated their office to the City Eco Lab site for the duration of the event.
A key question posed by a start-up like Les Coursiers Verts concerns scale: could their model absorb more than a tiny proportion of the flows of packages around a modern city?
And what about distance? Bike-base couriers may work in a city centre (even one with seven hills like St Etienne) – but what about longer distance traffic?
Frankly I don’t know the answer – but the idea of the show was to pose the question and bring different actors together to address it.
Right next to Les Corsiers Verts, for example, the French postal service, La Poste, presented the prototype of an an electric vehicle that they will deploy nationwide.
La Poste delivers five million packages a day in the city centres of France, and they’ve committed themselves to do this with zero emissions by 2012.
Now, zero emissions is not the same as zero environmental impact. For example, hybrid electric vehicles contain 60% more copper (thanks to their batteries and electronics) than old-style gas guzzlers. Mining and processing copper is incredibly energy and resource intensive.
Dealing with this wider footprint of delivery services is next on the list. For City Eco Lab, we were happy to start a conversation between The Big and The Small.