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What you need to know about UPS green shipping and carbon footprints

As the global economy recovers from one of the roughest stretches in our history, things like sustainability and green technology will once again make t...

Freddie Pierce
|Jan 13|magazine10 min read
As the global economy recovers from one of the roughest stretches in our history, things like sustainability and green technology will once again make their way to the forefront of company agendas. We all know that when things are at their worst—like they were in 2009—companies have to shift their priorities from a “let’s-protect-the-environment” stance to a “Shit-we-probably-need-to-worry-about-our-own-survival” stance.

Often, one of the first things to be nixed from the company agenda is those environmentally-friendly initiatives aimed at protecting the environment. It’s just the way we’re wired I guess. But as we move forward and the economy recovers, the executives of tomorrow will eventually start being won over again by green prospects and initiatives. “Go Green” will be a unified battle cry once again and companies will be willing to pay a premium for options that support sustainability and the environment. And that’s something that we can all get down with.

As far as the supply chain goes, we here at Supply Chain Digital feel like UPS is a company that’s doing its best to offset the carbon footprint of its operation. We say “doing it’s best” because UPS is still pumping CO2 into the atmosphere like a damn chimney. But when you are a rapidly expanding global shipping company, you can hardly expect to dramatically reduce CO2 levels. You have to focus your ecofriendly efforts elsewhere.

Using a “Carbon Neutral Shipping” option, UPS can monitor and track the carbon dioxide levels of customer shipments. Any UPS customer can direct the company to offset the carbon footprint of a shipment by paying a fee. Fees range from 5 cents for ground package and 20 cents for air packages to 75 cents for international packages. UPS currently matches all of its carbon neutral shipping fees up to $1 million. For larger companies contract services are available that begin with calculating the carbon impact from transportation.

Carbon neutral shipping options from UPS lets customers demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment. How it works though is a thing of environmental beauty. By using a calculator based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the international standard for carbon reporting, UPS is able to measure the carbon dioxide levels of shipments by using operational data like distance and transport mode. UPS uses the customer carbon neutral shipping fees and pumps that money into the Garcia River Fund, a non-profit organization that protects forests in California. The Garcia River Fund sells what are called “carbon offsets”, which is essentially a method to reduce carbon that is emitted elsewhere. Essentially UPS pumps it and then pays to have those emissions offset by environmental groups. 

The entire carbon neutral shipping process is verified by SGS, a third-party consultant. SGS also recommended the flat-rate fees that UPS uses. Carbon neutral shipping by UPS has recently expanded to include 35 countries across Europe, Asia and Americas.

By no means is carbon neutral shipping the final answer to our greenhouse gas problems, but it’s a start. And that’s all we can ask for right now.

Well played UPS.

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