Environmental Responsibility

Sustainability Solutions

“At TOM BIHN, we believe life’s too short and the world is too important for us to work with anyone but a kindred spirit. Our collaboration with UPS® is a great example of this: UPS has gone above and beyond in their efforts for sustainability, and it’s one of the reasons we ship UPS. (The other reason: they offer the best delivery and the best service.) TOM BIHN was one of the first small businesses in the country to take part in the UPS carbon neutral shipping program, and we were the very first company to have our packaging certified in the UPS Eco Responsible Packaging Program. We’re proud to be featured on the UPS website and in the video.”

—Tom Bihn, Founder, TOM BIHN

At UPS, our ability to help customers evaluate their supply chains and build solutions for efficiencies is a competitive advantage – for us and our customers. Our portfolio of sustainability solutions helps customers – big or small – measure, manage and mitigate the impact of their trade, whether it’s around the world or just around the corner.

A Smart & Sustainable Shipping Journey

Carbon Impact Analysis

UPS provides carbon emissions data with industry-leading accuracy and detail to help customers understand, monitor and manage their climate impacts. Based on our carbon inventory – that is, the fuel we burn within our network – we use our patented calculator to determine how many metric tons of greenhouse gases arise from customers’ shipping activity, then provide detailed emission reports broken down by mode and scope.

UPS carbon neutral Shipping

Delivering Solutions for Sustainable Shipments

We know many of our customers want to ship more, with less impact. With UPS carbon neutral, you can offset the carbon impact of the transportation of any shipment, including envelopes, packages or even freight.

TRI-KES is a wall coverings and interior finishes business with an ambitious goal of zero environmental impact by 2020. The UPS carbon neutral shipping program is helping them reach it. Because the company ships thousands of product samples and finished products to customers each year, the program is a core strategic component of the company’s sustainability plan.

When you choose UPS carbon neutral, you’re getting results you can trust. The program has been certified by Natural Capital Partners and verified by SGS (formerly Société Générale de Surveillance).

By participating, you counterbalance the impact of your deliveries through carbon offsetting and help fund environmental projects around the world that reduce carbon emissions. The small, incremental fee paid to ship carbon neutral is then used to purchase and fund verified emission-reduction projects like the sustainable conservation of the Garcia River Forest.

Other UPS projects this program has supported include The Conservation Fund’s Big River and Salmon Creek Forests in California. UPS also supports the Suzhou Qizi Mountain landfill gas recovery project in China and the Chol Charoen wastewater methane destruction project in Thailand.

Eco Responsible Packaging Program

There are many ways to make shipment packaging better for the environment, from choosing sustainable and reusable materials to using right-size packaging to eliminate waste. If you’re committed to using more sustainable packaging, we can help you figure out the best approach.

Best Practices for Sustainable Packaging

Through our Eco Responsible Packaging Program, we evaluate your packaging processes to determine the best way to protect your product while choosing materials that reduce your overall impact on the environment. To learn more, visit our Sustainable Packaging page.

In addition, UPS was the first in our industry to develop environmentally preferred packaging, designed in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund. Standard UPS packaging is made from recycled fiber with as much as 90 percent post-consumer content. Our Express envelopes, both the common and the reusable, are made from up to 100 percent post-consumer content. The UPS Reusable Express Envelope enables two shipments using just one envelope.

There are many ways UPS packaging and services enable recycling, returns, recovery, and refurbishment of goods that can give them additional life or prevent spoilage. See below for some examples, and read the UPS Growth of the Circular Economy whitepaper.

Recycling the Unrecyclable with TerraCycle

A More Efficient Returns Process

Returns were once an afterthought for many online retailers, but now have become an area of challenge and opportunity. In 2017, consumers returned more than $380 billion in goods, or 11.7 percent of all purchases in the U.S., according to a study published by the National Retail Federation. Frequent returns can be especially damaging to small retailers, who may be less able to invest in return shipping and may be unable to resell returned goods. UPS is addressing these issues through UPS Returns™ Manager, a tool that business customers can use to manage return shipments without integrating new technology into their own IT systems.

We’ve also made a strategic investment in Optoro, a reverse logistics technology company that works with retailers and brands to better manage, process, dispose, and sell returned and excess inventory. Existing return solutions are inefficient, generating 5 billion pounds of products and packaging that are wasted every year because they are not resold. Using comprehensive data analytics and multichannel online marketing, Optoro’s software platform determines the best path for each item, including return-to-stock, reselling on secondary marketplaces, donating, or recycling. By routing the items at first touch, Optoro’s technology helps retailers maximize the value of their returned inventory and reduce waste. UPS and Optoro are embarking on a joint venture that will combine UPS’s logistics expertise with Optoro’s smart-dispositioning capabilities, providing a one-stop shop for retailers and manufacturers who want to maximize recovery value and reduce environmental waste from returned merchandise.

Moving Reverse Logistics Forward

With these new offerings, UPS is making the entire logistics lifecycle more efficient. We believe that economic growth and environmental sustainability can go hand in hand. As e-commerce continues to dominate the shopping experience, we’re committed to ongoing development of ways to help customers’ businesses grow while minimizing their carbon footprint.

Solutions for Urban Environments

City Solution: Pedal Power

Cities around the world are growing more crowded every day, and this demographic shift is affecting quality of life in urban areas. At the same time, e-commerce is reshaping the way people live and work.

Customers have become accustomed to getting nearly anything they want, when and where they want it. The convergence of these two issues is creating challenges already evident in some cities: increased congestion, smog, and noise pollution.

In an effort to reach their sustainability goals, attract millennial talent, and enhance economic competitiveness, some cities are taking actions that require new models of transport, including pedestrian-only, low- or zero-emissions zones. This has implications for how people get around, how they buy things, and how logistics companies deliver for customers.

To meet these logistical challenges in urban areas, we need solutions that are both economically feasible and environmentally sustainable. UPS is spearheading partnerships with city officials, urban planners, and other thought leaders to ignite a new conversation about urban mobility and the potential for city-led transportation reform. These collaborations with cities are unearthing innovative ways to pick up and deliver packages while minimizing traffic congestion and pollution and promoting operational efficiency. In addition to the efforts below, we partnered with GreenBiz to create a research paper all about the challenges and opportunities of city growth: The Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics.

As a global logistics provider, UPS is already on the ground collaborating with customers, governments and other stakeholders to develop and test innovative delivery methods in cities around the world, including:

  • Introducing an “urban eco package hub” in partnership with the City Council in Dublin, Ireland, based on the container solution we pioneered in Hamburg, Germany in 2012. The hub is a mini distribution center that is brought into the city center once daily, with workers delivering packages from the hub by foot or electrically-assisted cargo tricycle. UPS and the City Council collaborated with the National College of Art and Design to host a student contest to design the container. Three similar containers have also been implemented in Munich.
  • Expanding the e-Bike to US cities, launching pilot projects in in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Piloting a last-mile “depot-to-door” solution in collaboration with the Low Impact City Logistics project, organized by Innovate UK. The delivery system involves loading packages onto pay load boxes at UPS’s London depot, then delivering them by a single trailer to a central hub located within a busy urban area. The boxes are distributed from the hub via power-assisted trailers, then packages are delivered to homes and businesses by bicycle or on foot.
  • Continuing to convert delivery trucks from diesel to electric power, which eliminates tailpipe emissions. In 2016, we ramped up efforts and continued deploying these vehicles in London, Paris, and various cities in Germany. At year end, we were operating 52 electric vehicles in central London – approximately 30 percent of our fleet in the city center – 40 of which were diesel-to-electric conversion vehicles.
  • Deploying a range-extended electric vehicle, which carries a small generator that recharges the batteries and automatically turns on or off when entering or leaving the city center. This allows us to serve long-range routes while still operating as a fully electric vehicle in the city. We plan to deploy up to 15 range-extended electric vehicles in the U.K. in 2017.
  • Expanding the network of global UPS Access Point™ locations and My Choice® members. These solutions enable consumers to choose a convenient time and place to receive packages, or to pick up packages from a central location. These solutions reduce wasted miles and associated emissions from missed delivery and pick-up attempts. The UPS Access Point network includes more than 28,000 locations worldwide, and more than 50 million UPS My Choice members.
  • In addition to direct pilot project implementation, UPS is also investing in and working with academic partners to engineer last-mile and “final 50 feet” solutions, both in terms of testing new technology and informing municipal policies. UPS’s partnership with the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab has led to new understanding of delivery barriers and the impact of the built environment on city congestion.
  • Similarly, a UPS-led summer studio class with Georgetown University and the Washington D.C. Department of Transportation utilized a collaborative approach to data sharing and applied research, an approach that was recognized by the MetroLab Network and Government Technology magazine as an Innovation of the Month. These efforts set the tone for UPS’s entire conversation with cities, breaking the mold not only in terms of new delivery modes, but also for what can be achieved through public-private partnerships.

To learn more about our solutions for urban environments, explore the Environmental Responsibility chapter of the 2017 UPS Corporate Sustainability Progress Report.