Sustainability update: UPS squeezes out more fuel consumption

Have you noticed how certain companies have stumbled a bit on their resource consumption improvements as their revenue has improved?

Not so, UPS, which managed to cut the amount of fuel it uses per package by 3.3 percent in 2010 while increasing volume by 1.8 percent. Truth be told, transportation is an industry where volume will absolutely aid efficiency, to a point. If a truck gets too heavy, the balance will be thrown off.

UPS's efforts to improve its fleet efficiency haven't been the result of any one thing. It has taken a focus on switching over vehicles to make sure the most appropriate choice is being used for a particular route, as well as a sharp focus on changing driver behavior. It also has taken new technologies, including alternative fuel vehicles and telematics to optimize routing decisions, as well as technology to help make sure loading is as sustainability-minded as possible. For example, according to UPS cutting the number of stops per mile by 0.01 percent in 2010 had the same effect as not driving 9.13 million miles. Its vehicles using alternative fuel technologies covered more than 200 million miles since 2000.

In its latest corporate sustainability report, UPS details its journey to these new efficiency levels, which isn't just green-serving. Said UPS chief sustainability officer Scott Wicker:

"Fuel represents not only a major cost factor for UPS but also a major source of emissions that impact the environment. It makes sense for UPS to report extensively on how the company is doing its best to lower its net fuel use."

Aside from fuel economies and related emissions improvements, UPS heightened its reporting about water consumption and Scope 3 emissions (the emissions attributable to its supply chain).

On the water front, UPS describes its progress in 2010 as "significant." The company has achieved a level of 1.19 water consumption cubic meters per 1,000 packages. That compares with 1.54 in 2007. For its United States operations in the supply chain and freight segment, UPS cut 2010 water use 8 percent in absolute terms compared with the previous year. Because of this dramatic reduction, UPS reported that absolute water consumption in the United was barely 1 percent change from the prior-year level.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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