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Sustainability

Going for the Cycle
cargo cruiser

When I was in Europe, I was initially taken back by how COMPACT the compact cars were. They seemed to fit in any parking space and could zip in and out traffic. Those small cars would definitely work in South Philly, but they didn’t seem to hold much. What’s a girl to do with a big shopping list in the Italian Market? Could there be something small with cargo space? And if I’m wishing, could it also be stylish and eco-friendly?

Well, hello Germany!

Downtown Dortmund has new wheels in its neighborhood. UPS Germany is conducting a pilot test of its electrically assisted cycle, known as the Cargo Cruiser. The trial will help determine if this alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) is an ecologically and economically viable choice for deliveries to urban areas.

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“Getting” Carbon Offsetting: Infographic
Garcia River Forest

For a long time, the term “carbon offsetting” sounded to me like vague corporate speak. I had little or no idea what it really meant, and struggled to understand it. But when our video team at UPS was tasked with producing a video project centered around carbon offsetting at the Garcia River Forest, I finally had something tangible to (forgive the tree-hugging pun) “put my arms around.” 

It suddenly seemed incredibly simple. Our carbon offset program at UPS is used to support projects such as the forestry efforts at Garcia River, and the trees in the Garcia River Forest suck carbon dioxide from the environment. At last, we had something visual – and real – to help tell the very non-visual story of what carbon offsetting actually is, and does.  

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Participating in a Cleaner World: Video
UPS carbon neutral shipment

I’ve learned a lot in the six months that I’ve been with UPS. One of the first is that around UPS, sustainability is a pretty big deal. As someone who loves escaping out to the Rockies for the beautiful camping and hiking, I was pleased to see the great sustainability programs we offer like carbon neutral shipping, and the emission offset projects we support like Big River Salmon Creek, Cholburi Wastewater Treatment, and the beautiful Garcia River Forest Project.

Seeing these projects got me thinking: with all the conservation opportunities available worldwide, how do we as a company decide what offset projects to support? Luckily, one of the other things I’ve learned during my time here is that there is no shortage of seriously knowledgeable people, so I knocked on a few doors and got the answers.  

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“Small Change” Can Change the World: Video
Garcia River Forest

I’m not a tree hugger. Nor am I a scientist. I’m a conservationist and a marketer, and as of seven weeks ago, a mom. I was raised with a strong appreciation for nature, and I know how glorious it feels to hike up to a clearing to watch the sea mist roll in across the redwood forest at sunset.  The sustainability and communication teams at UPS know this too.  We shared a chilly sunset during a recent video shoot at The Conservation Fund’s 24,000-acre Garcia River Forest along California’s north coast.

We visited with foresters, ecologists and loggers, and witnessed firsthand that you don’t have to be an environmentalist to appreciate nature, or to understand the vast changes to the landscape we’ve experienced recently.  Over the past several decades, millions of acres of forests have given way to homes and roads to support a growing global population. Forest loss has been hard on wildlife and our climate, accounting for nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.  But there are positive changes as well.  Companies like UPS have changed the way they do business to measure and then reduce their impact on the planet.  Customers can make a difference too. 

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Logistics at the Core: UPS’s 2011 Sustainability Report (Video)
2011 UPS Sustainability Report cover

Whether it’s saving 83,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions, achieving a net reduction in domestic energy use at United States facilities, or expanding the deployment of telematics technology to eliminate more than 98 million minutes of engine idling time, Scott Wicker knows a thing or two about ensuring that UPS’s integrated network is the most efficient it can be.

“Ten years ago, UPS began to construct its first Corporate Sustainability Report. Back then, the effort was seminal, championed by a small group of individuals who saw the connection between UPS’s behind-the-scenes efforts at serving the community and operating well with the emerging stakeholder cry for more transparency about business’s impact on society,” explains Wicker, UPS’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, who took the sustainability reins in 2011.

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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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Video: The 3 Parts of Sustainable Packaging
eco responsible packaging

This week out in San Diego, California, our Senior Manager of Sustainability Solutions, Arnold Barlow, will be speaking at the Sustainable Brands conference.  It’s a gathering of people from large corporations as well as start-ups to discuss forward-thinking ideas about improving the future. 

Arnold will be talking about “Innovations in Sustainable Packaging”. We caught up with Arnold before he headed out to California to talk about our Eco Responsible Packaging Program.  He explains the three elements of sustainable packaging: damage prevention, cube optimization (product to package ratio), and materials selection.

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8 Tips from UPSers for World Environment Day
World Environment Day

In honor of World Environment Day today, UPSers from across the globe have some suggestions on becoming more aware of our impact on the environment:

1. Buy dish and hand soap in bulk, and use a reusable container (suggested by Deborah, Canada)

2. Recycle at home and at work (suggested by Jessica, United States)

3. Wash clothes on cold, and hang laundry to dry (suggested by Alina, Europe)

4. Buy organic, buy local, grow your own produce, and support sustainable businesses (suggested by Jenna, United States)

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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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New Terminology, Same Priority: Sustainability Engrained at UPS
fgb

Speaking at Fortune Brainstorm Green 2012, UPS COO David Abney described the maturation of sustainability at UPS as a priority for customers, employees, the Board of Directors and other stakeholders in the organization.  

“The terminology [of sustainability] has changed, but it’s changed for very sound business reasons,” Abney said, adding that customers have become a powerful catalyst for sustainability in recent years.  

 “What really has changed is the number of customers looking at us to manage their supply chains from an environmental perspective. Customers were demanding we pay attention (to sustainability),” he said in response to questions from Fortune reporter Geoff Colvin.

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