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Some History of Sustainability with UPS
1936 UPS Electric Package Cars

As the UPS Archivist, I spend a lot of time researching documents that reveal our history and the stories of our people.

So in my search through the UPS Archives – while looking for something else I might add – I came across this document from 1933 asking for the funds for three new “Gould Batteries for two ton Walker Electric Trucks.”  These new batteries were to replace three “very old and almost useless” batteries in package cars that were serving in New York City at the time.

Request for Batteries 1933

Click image to read

The interesting thing about this document is that it’s the earliest known record of UPS having electric vehicles, or alternative fuel vehicles (AFV), and reveals that UPS began using electric vehicles as early as 1933, or possibly even earlier. Further supporting this, we have photos of electric package cars in Los Angeles.

This got me thinking about other milestones in our history that demonstrate sustainable, environmentally-focused practices – even before anyone was using the word “sustainability.”  Here are a few of my favorites:

1913 – We began consolidating deliveries which not only pleased our customers, but took vehicles off the road.

One of UPS's first Electric Vehicles, 1936

One of UPS’s first Electric Vehicles, 1936

1933 – The first verifiable use of electric vehicles in our fleet.

1982 – We began using vehicles fueled with propane, continuing our journey into new fuel sources.

1985 – We added vehicles fueled with compressed natural gas (CNG); we now have over 1,000 on the road.

1990 – The Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD) is born. Think of all the paper we have saved.

1994 – We began using reusable smalls sort bags instead of disposable plastic bags. Score one for landfill avoidance.

1998 – We partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund for responsible packaging, and introduced hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) into our fleet.

2003 – We installed our first solar panels in sunny Palm Springs, California.

2009 – We began offering UPS carbon neutral to our customers, using the funding to support offset projects such as the Garcia River Forest.

2011 – We named our first Chief Sustainability Officer, and starting testing composite vehicles (CV-23 – also affectionately referred to as our “plastic vehicles”).

What’s your favorite moment in our history?  Post your comments below.


Category: Caring for Communities, Community, Environment, Sustainability
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    Comments [5]

  1. This is great. I am hoping you will be escalating your sustainability programs as the pace of degradation of the planet seems to be escalating at horrendous rates!

  2. really cool truck

  3. That Hand Written note about the batteries is the best. That would never happen today, let alone finding anything that cost this little. And I just love the explanation for the investment. i really enjoyed reading all the information you found. Great job. Thanks for sharing.

  4. My Great Uncle Sold “his” Elito Package Delivery Business, in NYC, to UPS, in the 1930 timeframe. We preserved the resources from that sale for Charitable purposes. We love to hear from anyone with information relating to this UPS acquisition as it would be of great interest to our Family. The spelling of “Elito” may be incorrect so any information would be helpful.

  5. The trucks in the photo look much older than 1933, and the note does state that the batteries being replaced are “very old and almost useless” (which probably translates as “won’t hold a charge any longer”). Here is a photo of a 1909 Walker which happens to be for sale. http://www.hymanltd.com/search/Details.asp?stockno=4248&recordCount=1

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