Environmental Responsibility

Fuels & Fleets

Every day, UPS is faced with a complex challenge. How do we deliver more while using less?

Our rolling laboratory of more than 8,300 vehicles is one way that we are delivering on our sustainability goals. We now drive more than 1 million alternative fuel and advanced technology miles each business day. Our alternative fleet has driven more than 1 billion cleaner miles since 2000.

We have gone far, but there is much further to go. We are looking at the road ahead, we have set ambitious new goals for our fleet and facilities:

  • 12% reduction in absolute Greenhouse Gas emissions in our ground operations by 2025
  • 25% renewable energy to total electricity for both facilities and vehicles by 2025 (a dramatic increase from the 0.2 percent in 2016)
  • 40% of our ground fuel will be low carbon and alternative fuel types by 2025 (an increase from 19.6 percent in 2016)
  • 25% of annual purchases will be for alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles – growing our rolling lab and bringing scale to promising fuel and technology

These commitments will result in cleaner emissions and help to commercialize the market for alternative fuels, such as renewable diesel and renewable natural gas. This pathway, however, is not without challenges. Large-scale production of renewable fuels will require significant supplier investments and, in the case of organic sources for renewable diesel, could potentially disrupt other markets.

UPS has a history of more than 10 years of testing and deploying a variety of vehicle types, matched to the terrain and delivery conditions at each location. This approach helps UPS continuously integrate new technologies and operational efficiencies in our large, global delivery fleet. While monitoring each vehicle’s performance, we work with manufacturers, government agencies and non-profit organizations to advance new technologies. Because the more we discover together, the more sustainable we become and the more we help others move forward, too.

Alternative Fuels & Advanced Technologies

UPS has always been an early adopter of innovative technologies. In the early 1930s, we introduced electric vehicles into our fleet. Today, we operate one of the industry’s largest private alternative fuel and advanced technology fleets made up of more than 8,300 low-emissions vehicles. Check out the Saving Fuel Fact Sheet to learn more about each vehicle type, including all-electrics, electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids, propane, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biomethane.

UPS Rolling Laboratory at a Glance

Since 2000, our alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles have logged more than 1 billion miles in the U.S., Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Thailand and the United Kingdom. With more than 100,000 drivers logging more than 3 billion miles per year in our total fleet, our future depends on our ability to meet the growing demand for global trade while reducing our impact on the environment. UPS is putting sustainability innovation into action, all over the world.

In 2016, 16 percent of our new vehicles purchased — more than 1,250 vehicles — were either alternative fuel or advanced technology. A total of 19.6 percent of the conventional diesel and gasoline fuel previously used by UPS’s ground fleet is now being replaced by alternative fuels including renewable natural gas and renewable diesel. By 2025, 40 percent of our total ground-fleet fuel purchases will be from low carbon fuels and 25% of all vehicles purchased will be alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. We’ve purchased over 1,300 LNG tractors and have contributed to over 44 LNG and CNG fueling stations to support them, as well as invested in over 2,200 propane package cars. By the end of 2016, UPS invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations globally since 2009 – and in 2017, committed to another $90 million in funding for six new fueling stations and nearly 450 alternative fuel vehicles. These continued investments, combined with supportive government policies, and a collaborative set of partners have helped to expand development and utilization of alternative fuels, vehicles and infrastructure throughout the world.

Fuel Supply

Trash to Gas – How UPS Utilizes Biomethane

Because fuel is such an integral part of keeping our promise to customers, UPS must always ensure the accessibility and integrity of our fuel supplies. So we practice diligent, responsible fuel sourcing as part of our comprehensive approach to energy use and emission reduction. Our sourcing practices also help combat the ever-changing conditions in a volatile energy market where costs will rise or fall based on weather, economic growth and demographic factors.

As an industry leader in seeking alternative fuel opportunities for our worldwide fleet, approximately 19.6 percent of the conventional diesel and gasoline fuel previously used by UPS’s ground fleet is now being replaced by alternative fuels, including renewable natural gas and renewable diesel. Since 2009, UPS has invested more than US$750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations globally. Consistent investment, combined with supportive government policies and collaborative partnerships, has helped expand development and utilization of alternative fuels, vehicles, and infrastructure around the world. These purchases are part of our global GHG strategy to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations by 20 percent by 2020. In 2016, we achieved a 16.6 percent reduction in our carbon intensity versus a 2007 baseline.

Ground Fleet

How Diesel Goes Electric

Within our ground fleet operations, we practice three main fuel reduction strategies to lessen the impact on the environment. First, we work to reduce the miles we travel to accomplish each delivery. In 2016, we completed deployment of ORION — On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation — our proprietary route optimization software to 100 percent of U.S. routes targeted for implementation. Since beginning deployment in 2013, we have reduced the distance driven by our drivers by 210 million miles, achieving a 210,000 metric tonne cumulative reduction in CO2 emissions and realized annual cost savings of US$400 million. Now that ORION is fully deployed to these routes, we expect to see annual reductions of 100 million miles and 100,000 metric tonnes in CO2 emissions. Such careful and calculated route planning, combined with our drivers’ knowledge of their community, allows our ground fleet to serve ten million customers a day without unnecessary overlap.

Second, we strive to reduce the amount of fuel required for those miles driven through vehicle telematics and diligent vehicle maintenance practices to prevent problems before they begin, which help us run efficiently. Our proprietary system gathers data on more than 200 vehicle-related elements, which are then analyzed to identify opportunities to enhance safety and boost efficiency. We use telematics throughout our domestic small package and UPS Freight fleets, and continue to expand deployment outside the U.S.

Third, using alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles within our fleet helps us meet the needs of our customers while accomplishing our goals to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Visit Optimized Network to learn more about the innovative technology that supports our fleet efficiency.

Air Fleet

A Lower Carbon Footprint in the Air

UPS is as committed to efficiency and sustainable practices in the air as we are on the ground. See the infographic above to learn about many of the ways we are being more efficient in the air.

In addition:

  • UPS Airlines has brought 100 percent of its air fleet into full compliance with noise reduction regulations established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The standard has been set, and all new aircraft will continue to meet it.
  • We also implemented a fuel management software solution in 2016 that provides enhanced analytics and visibility of fuel consumption. The solution allows tracking and reporting of fuel usage metrics and helps target areas for fuel and emissions reduction.
  • UPS Airlines completed a multiyear project implementing a new takeoff and landing performance system on all UPS aircraft in 2016. The new on-board system automates takeoff and landing performance calculations for the entire aircraft fleet. This helps make the best and safest decisions during takeoffs and landings.
  • UPS works with the Federal Aviation Administration to text and expand the next-generation (“NextGen”) air traffic control and surface traffic management systems. UPS now receives controller instructions such as clearances via digital technology, which improves efficiency, reduces radio congestion, and enhances our ability to save fuel during taxiing. We are working with the FAA to pioneer this program for the industry.

One of our primary strategies for environmental responsibility is to reduce the amount of fuel we burn, which, in turn, lowers our greenhouse gas emissions and the overall carbon intensity of UPS Airlines. To lower fuel consumption we purchase young, fuel-efficient aircraft and retrofit existing older models to make them more efficient, as well. UPS also lowers flight speeds, reduces weight where possible, optimizes flight paths, washes aircraft engines regularly and uses technology to increase precision of aircraft departures, arrivals and taxi times.

In 2016, we ordered 14 new Boeing 747-8 freighter jets to meet increased demand, with an option to purchase 14 additional jets in the future. The jumbo freighters will help meet our customers’ future capacity needs while also reducing fuel use and carbon emissions. The 747-8’s new wing and engine design reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 16 percent.

For more information about these and other important initiatives, visit the UPS Pressroom and chapter 4 of the 2016 Sustainability Report.