Could Drone Delivery Help Save The Environment?

Guest Post by Lillian Conners

Overview

Drones used to be military hardware; now, they are shrunk down to a fun piece of modern equipment, mainly used in the entertainment industry. However, thanks to the advancement of technology, drones are not limited to capturing aerial photos and videos. Some people use them to transport medical supplies, survey high-risk areas, law enforcement, food delivery, and much more. With that said, today we focus on a key question, which is “could drone delivery help save the environment?” Find out the answer when you continue reading below.

When Did Drone Delivery Start?

There are sources that say that in 2015, an Hangzhou-based company, Ali Baba, started providing drone delivery through a partnership with Shanghai YTO Express delivery services. The company managed to deliver to 450 customers in China. In 2016, Amazon followed suit and started its Air Prime services. Now, major companies, such as DHL, Walmart, UPS, and more, are utilizing drones for package deliveries.

In one research, recycling statistics reveal that one major role that drones do is helping with taking aerial photos and videos of various recycling facilities. This shows that bit-by-bit, drones are making their way into solid waste management as well. However, what else can they do that can provide a major impact on the environment?

Drone Transportation

According to this study, drones cut the time for deliveries by up to two to three days. And, for local deliveries, customers can receive their products within 30mins. Now, that is a much more suitable option for consumers. 

With drone transportation, it minimizes the use of cargo trucks, which can lessen carbon emissions, which according to this article by the Federal Highway Administration, is one of several environmental costs in major areas. In this case, drones cut carbon emissions from highway areas. The other key areas are air and rail.

There is a key factor, though, when it comes to drone delivery, and that is its size. Drones today are still relatively small, and can only carry small packages. Nevertheless, it still cuts down the need to make use of car exhausts, which can have harmful effects on the environment.

Energy Consumption

Drones are battery-operated, let’s get that out of the way. However, when it comes to their consumption, larger drones require more energy than smaller ones. And, they can also decrease battery juice much faster. However, there are also other factors that can affect battery life. These are the weight of the package, the drone’s speed, and the wind resistance.

Drone Emissions

When it comes to emissions, drones use a lot less energy compared to large trucks. However, these trucks can also carry a lot more packages in one go while drones carry one at a time. With that said, most trucks have diesel engines, and the numbers show that when converting crude oil into fuel for diesel engines adds about 20% (and even more) to greenhouse gases.

However, this does not let drones off the hook. There is still the fact that drone batteries are still being manufactured so that one can operate them. Plus, even though battery manufacturing is getting better, it still produces carbon dioxide into the environment.

In relation to that, there is also the matter of having multiple warehouses for drone delivery services. That is because drones still have limited range, but most today can handle long distance (350 miles). With that said, when a company needs multiple warehouses to serve a major city, that would mean powering up the facility, which could lead to extra energy needed.

Could Drone Delivery Help Save the Environment?

The short answer is yes! It can help save the environment, but not by much. Since larger drones still require more power consumption, smaller drones should be the main focus for companies that are looking to provide drone delivery services. For now, much larger packages should still be left with delivery trucks. With that said, however, utilizing smaller drones for transporting small packages can definitely help in reducing carbon gases being released.

A much more sustainable option is for companies to turn to use electric trucks for delivering large packages, as of the moment at least. But, drone deliveries, with technology, always improving, can become a much more sustainable, environment-friendly, cost- and time-effective future for all of us.

Conclusion

Drones are being utilized a lot more than when they first started in the consumer market. And, they are not only limited to capturing aerial shots for commercials, movies, and others, anymore. Today, drones are multi-purpose machines that can help save a lot of time and energy. Plus, they are also the future for aerial deliveries.

About the Author

Lillian Connors is a Senior Content Developer at ACT-ENVIRO, with years of experience in developing content. Throughout her career, she always looked for ways to contribute to the environment in recycling efforts, while providing valuable information with her written articles. She’s deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainability not only makes us far less dependent on others regarding how we live and do business but also contributes to our planet being a better place to live on. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book and sip on an occasional appletini.