Recently, UPS released its 12th annual Sustainability Report. The report announced that, in addition to reducing overall carbon emissions in 2013, the company also met its 2016 goal of reducing its air and ground fleet’s carbon intensity by 10 percent three years early.

For the second year in a row, successful execution of UPS’ global greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy allowed the company to deliver more goods, while generating fewer emissions. In 2013, absolute carbon emissions decreased 1.5 percent from 2012, even as global shipping volume increased 3.9 percent during the same time frame.

Due to this achievement, the company has set a new goal to achieve a 20-percent reduction in carbon intensity from transportation by 2020.

According to Mike Britt, director of maintenance & engineering, international operations, ground fleet for UPS, reaching the original emissions reduction goals early can be attributed to “industrial technology advances by the OEMs, which were able to bring more alternatives to market quicker than anticipated, so UPS was able to deploy more vehicles.”

Achieving Goals

UPS’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal is the result of many combined efforts in several engineering disciplines, which includes vehicle routing effectiveness, density effectiveness, and UPS’ role with its “rolling laboratory approach” with its OEMs, which helped bring vehicles to market quicker than anticipated, according to Britt. 

“Here’s how we define our rolling laboratory approach: We test and deploy a variety of vehicle types, matched to the terrain and delivery conditions at each location,” Britt explained. “This approach helps UPS continuously integrate new technologies and operational efficiencies in our large, global delivery fleet.”

UPS’ 3,647 alternative-fuel and advanced technology vehicles (or 5 percent of the company’s overall fleet) worldwide continue to drive GHG reductions and serve as this rolling laboratory to test, optimize, and deploy new-generation vehicles.

While monitoring each vehicle’s performance, UPS works with manufacturers, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to advance new technologies.

Increasing Commitment

In 2013, UPS ramped up its use of cleaner-burning natural gas vehicles across the country, adding 249 heavy-duty tractors fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) by year’s end. The company is on target to deploy more than 1,000 LNG tractors by the end of 2014. Additionally, UPS’ current natural gas tractor fleet is running more than 2 million miles per week.

In addition, in 2013, UPS’ alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles worldwide logged 55 million miles and avoided the use of 5.8 million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel. Since 2000, the fleet has logged more than 350 million miles and avoided using 34.5 million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel. The savings put the company well on its way to reaching a goal of driving 1 billion miles in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles by the end of 2017.

How does UPS continually meet and outperform the emissions-reduction goals it’s set?

“Because, the more we discover together, the more sustainable we become and the more we help others move forward, too,” Britt said.