Sustainable Solutions

Sustainable Solutions

UPS is continuously developing solutions that help our customers reduce the impacts of their supply chains. Learn more about the solutions we’re working on with customers, city partners and other stakeholders to help minimize their carbon footprint.

Solutions for Urban Environments

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.

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities. This growth is adding to the already common challenges of 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.

At UPS, we are helping to address these challenges through a variety of delivery concepts created specifically for urban centers through collaborations with city officials, universities, customers, thought-leaders, and other stakeholders. We began with one e-bike in Hamburg, Germany and now have more than 30 pilot projects in cities around the world. Here are a few of the sustainable urban solutions we are utilizing around the world:

  • Collaborating with the Seattle Department of Transportation and University of Washington to make deliveries using electric-assist cargo bikes in downtown Seattle’s congested Pike Place Market area.
  • Introducing an “urban Eco Hub” in partnership with the City Council in Dublin, Ireland. 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. Three similar containers have also been implemented in Munich.
  • Piloting a last-mile “depot-to-door” solution in collaboration with the Low Impact City Logistics project. The delivery system involves loading packages onto payload 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.
  • 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.
  • Testing Latch™ smart access devices that allow UPS drivers to complete more deliveries on the first attempt to apartments, condos, and other multifamily housing. The test program first began in New York City and San Francisco, and is expanding to Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Miami and Seattle.
  • Collaborating with academic institutions 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.

Learn more about the cities we’re working with in the 2018 UPS Sustainability Report’s Urban Logistics Solutions story: Rewriting the Urban Delivery Playbook, One City at a Time.

Solutions to Help Customers Ship More with Less Impact

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.
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A Smart & Sustainable Shipping Journey

Carbon Impact Analysis

Through this service, UPS provides carbon emissions data with industry-leading accuracy and detail to help customers understand, monitor and manage their climate impacts. Based on our tested carbon calculations, we can share how many metric tons of greenhouse gases arise from a customer’s shipping activity, then provide detailed emission reports broken down by mode and scope that are verified by Natural Capital Partners and verified by SGS (formerly Société Générale de Surveillance).

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 shipping, you can offset the carbon impact of the transportation of any shipment, including envelopes, packages or even freight.

When you choose UPS carbon neutral, you counterbalance the impact of your deliveries through carbon offsetting and help fund environmental projects around the world that reduce carbon emissions such as verified emission-reduction projects, including forest and wildlife conservation and gas capture projects.

Just like our Carbon Impact Analysis, the results are verified by Natural Capital Partners and SGS.

Sustainable Packaging Solutions

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 your business is committed to using more sustainable packaging, we can help you figure out the best approach.

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.

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. We also offer re-useable UPS Express service envelopes which are designed to be used for secure service twice. In addition, all UPS Express service envelopes are made from up to 100 percent post-consumer content.

Enabling the Circular Economy

A key part of the Circular Economy is the movement of materials to and from consumers. UPS handles logistics challenges like that every day and can help enable your company’s Circular Economy strategy.

See below for some examples, and read the UPS Growth of the Circular Economy research conducted in partnership with GreenBiz.
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Recycling the Unrecyclable with TerraCycle

What’s Old is New Again – Taking Business for a Loop

There was a time when the milkman would deliver to your door and collect empty bottles when you were done with them – all to return later with more. This no mess, no packaging system is making a comeback with Loop™, a circular economy model being pioneered by TerraCycle in partnership with major brands like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Danone, Mars Petcare, and Mondelēz International.

UPS, a long-time logistics partner for TerraCycle’s innovative recycling programs, will also provide shipping expertise for Loop by delivering ordered items to customers’ doors and collecting the empty packaging, which are then cleaned and refilled. UPS also helped to test the Loop tote, a rugged and temperature-safe container. The UPS Package Design and Test Lab provided key insights into the tote’s construction and ensured that it could last for thousands of trips.

Loop is being piloted in New York and Paris, with plans to test in other cities soon.

A More Efficient Returns Process

Returns were once an afterthought for many online retailers, but now have become an area of challenge and opportunity. 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, disposition, and sell returned and excess inventory. Existing return solutions are inefficient, generating 5 billion pounds of products and packaging waste every year. 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.

Moving Reverse Logistics Forward

Learn more about sustainability efforts at UPS in our 2018 Report: Creating Our Tomorrow, Sustainably