What is freight consolidation?

Freight consolidation is where suppliers have goods delivered to a consolidation centre on the outskirts of a city. The goods are then combined into a single fuller load for the onward journey to the delivery point.

Freight consolidation is a way of removing freight vehicles from our roads. It helps reduce the negative impacts associated with heavy traffic which are often experienced most by people living in areas of deprivation.

How does it improve air quality in Bristol?

Freight consolidation improves air quality by reducing petrol and diesel vehicle trips in the city centre. There is also more potential for the last leg of the journey to be completed by a low or no emission vehicle such as an electric van or a cargo bike.

Other benefits for Bristol include:

  • Fewer freight vehicles moving through the city and less congestion.
  • Reduced noise pollution.
  • Less wear and tear on road surfaces.
  • Improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Freight consolidation illustration


What does freight consolidation mean for businesses?

Since 2004, many Bristol and Bath businesses have used freight consolidation to manage deliveries more effectively, save staff time and optimise storage space.

Benefits for businesses:

  • Cost savings from being able to bulk buy or buy collectively.
  • More control over the quantity and timing of deliveries.
  • Easier deliveries on narrow or restricted streets.
  • Improved environmental credentials.
  • The ability to send packing materials back in the return load for recycling.
  • More efficient and sustainable movement of goods.
  • Delivery times and schedules can be chosen.

At its peak, the freight consolidation scheme reduced onward trips in the central area by 70% to 80% reduction  between 2004 and 2018.  For every 10 vehicles that made a delivery to the consolidation centre, just two or three onward journeys to the central area were made.

We want to continue to reduce the number of heavy goods vehicles entering the city and encourage onward journeys to be done by zero-emission vehicles. This will help us improve air quality and contribute to our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

As part of our One City Plan, we’re aiming for 95% of deliveries within the city centre to be made by electric freight vehicles within the next decade with consolidation centres at all our main access routes.

For more information about freight consolidation and the support available, please email air.quality@bristol.gov.uk