UPS Sustainability Report Cites “More of What Matters”
UPS Sustainability Report Cover

The theme of a Sustainability Report says a lot of about a company. It offers a clue about how the company positions sustainability externally and internally. It also signals how the company wants you, the reader, to review the contents.

Each autumn, the UPS sustainability report team extensively discusses the year’s strengths and weaknesses and begins to evaluate how that year is different from previous ones. How has the company’s sustainability program and commitments evolved? What are the gaps that were addressed? What is going on the marketplace that could affect the way our sustainability report contents will be judged?

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Seven Sustainability Trends to Watch for in 2013
World Environment Day

Every year, sustainability professionals come together to discuss trends and expectations for the future. The meetings, like Net Impact and BSR, buzz with heady discussions about the world’s social and environmental issues: poverty, human trafficking, child labor, transparency, and climate change.

When we get home, business-based attendees have to sort through the aspirational talk to determine which social and environmental issues should guide corporate sustainability programs. Relevancy isn’t always direct or obvious but it’s critical for companies who want to remain leaders in sustainability.

Based on my review, here are the business-relevant trends worth watching in 2013:

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Sustainable Products Are Not Enough: Customers Want Responsible Suppliers
ECO group

One of my favorite parts of being on UPS’s “green team” is learning how our customers are embracing sustainability. Geiger is one of the nation’s leading promotional products companies that is deep into the peak buying season for corporate holiday gifts  They tell me the hottest items this year are eco-friendly products featuring biodegradable and renewable materials, organic or recycled content, and energy-friendly and hand-powered items. And starting this month, all of their shipments will be sent UPS carbon neutral.

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UPS Lightens Up – 150 New “Plastic Trucks” to Save 40% Fuel (Infographic)
UPS composite car

The trendy sports car Tesla has it. The Boeing DreamLiner has it. And now the UPS package car has it too. Composite materials are now being introduced to replace certain metal components in the ubiquitous brown trucks as a way to lighten the load by 900 pounds and improve fuel efficiency by 40%.  

UPS announced this week that it intends to purchase 150 composite-body vehicles, as a result of a year-long pilot program to test the composite materials’ durability, repair qualities and structural strength. The composite-clad package cars (nicknamed the “plastic truck”) weighs in nearly 900 lbs. lighter than a traditional package car, helping improve fuel efficiency by 40%, according to test results. Delivery is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2012.

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Stop Idling and Get Moving: UPS’s Tips For Fuel Conservation
UPS package car in San Francisco

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, which means millions of people will hit the nation’s back roads and highways en route to vacation destinations. In fact, AAA reports that an additional 500,000 cars will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year although many will stay closer to home. Stop and go traffic, poor vehicle maintenance and cars laden with vacation gear can reduce fuel economy significantly.

With 100,000 drivers on the road throughout the world, we have mastered the art and science of fuel conservation. Via a combination of technology and driver behavior, UPS avoided driving more than 63.5 million miles in one year with an associated emissions avoidance of 68,000 metric tonnes.

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In Sustainability Report Season, an Award Put Efforts into Focus

It’s that time of year again. Sustainability leaders are cranking through reams of data and copy as they prepare for the annual corporate Sustainability Report season.

A credible report means meticulously examining the numbers that indicate your company’s environmental, social and economic impact and then putting it in context. The data must serve a wide variety of stakeholders so that they can find the information they want, evaluate its importance and then make an informed decision about their business partners.

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A UPS Champion of Sustainability is Honored by the EPA
David Guernsey

Sometimes nice guys DO finish first.

David Guernsey, a member of UPS’s Corporate Sustainability Team, has been honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his long-term contribution to advancing the EPA’s SmartWay program. The SmartWay program helps businesses assess and reduce fuel use and emissions from shipping. Created in 2004, the program addresses the marketplace’s growing need for a transparent and sophisticated level of carbon footprint assessment.  This is the first time the agency has honored individuals as “SmartWay Champions.”

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Why UPS’s Sky-High Carbon Disclosure Project Score Wasn’t an Accident
UPS package car in San Francisco

Earlier this month, UPS was informed by the Carbon Disclosure Project that it had received the highest score (99 out of 100) on its Global 500 Leadership Index. UPS is one of only four companies with that top score.  

The Index is comprised of companies that “have displayed the most professional approach to corporate governance regarding climate change information disclosure practices. Companies are scored on their climate change disclosure, and high scores indicate good internal data management and understanding of climate change related issues affecting the company.”  We are always grateful for high scores from third-parties, especially one as prestigious and credible as CDP.

In this case, the CDP score represents more than just an external accolade. It also is an achievement earned through thoughtful action on the company’s part.

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How to Read A Sustainability Report: A Guide For Skeptics

It’s Sustainability Report season again. Companies around the world are sending out notices of their web-posted reports, highlighting their achievements with colorful charts, graphs and photos.

These reports represent the best and worst of the sustainability movement. At their worst, reports are shallow marketing pieces that breathlessly brag about one-off programs designed to be proof points for corporate responsibility. At their best, sustainability reports provide a transparent, quantified, balanced view of the company’s impact and ambitions.

To know the difference, readers need to be aware of what makes a credible Sustainability Report. Here’s my check list. The report…

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UPS Field Trip: Learning about Climate Change in the Forests of Quebec
group photo

Memories of the forest….

….. falling asleep in a bed of soft pine needles under the sinking sun

….. trekking gorillas in the highlands of Uganda

….. awestruck at the majesty of the mighty California redwoods

….. swinging on vines as a kid in the Maryland woods near home

These personal reflections were the beginning of a two-day workshop about the universal appeal of nature, conservation and the power of the world’s forests to combat climate change. UPS sponsored the event that included employees, customers and three non-profit organizations.

The workshop, conducted by the environmental research group Earthwatch Institute, gave participants the opportunity to learn about the science of climate change, to experience field research, and to share best practices about how corporations can help mitigate their environmental impact by supporting forestry projects. Participants met at the Gault Nature Reserve in Mont-Saint-Hilaire Quebec.

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