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UPS steers toward new U.S. fuel efficiency destination

UPS steers toward new U.S. fuel efficiency destination

Posting in Sustainability

Giant global delivery company seeks to improve miles per gallon performance by 20 percent over next decade, after achieving 10 percent efficiency gain between 2000 and 2009

Even though UPS drivers are logging more miles than they did 10 years ago (one literally just pulled up at my house!), their fuel consumption has decreased by 3.2 million gallons.

Now, the company is hoping to drive even better fuel efficiency across its 60,000-vehicle ground fleet with a goal to improve the performance of its entire U.S. package delivery fleet by 20 percent between 2000 and 2020.

That's one of the new goals set out in the latest UPS corporate sustainability report. UPS has already driven similar dramatic results in the fuel efficiency of its freight airline, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by up to 42 percent since 1990. The company estimates that its airline accounts for 53 percent of the entire UPS global carbon footprint. (It has about 210 planes.)

A couple of different measures have helped it reach its original goals, including driving behavioral training, telematics technologies and the roll out of nearly 2,000 alternative fuel vehicles (245 in the last year alone). An example: UPS' proprietary routing technology helped it avoid roughly 20.4 million miles during 2009, which translates into an emissions reduction of 20,000 tons.

And, because UPS recognizes a new business opportunity when it sees one, the company has now licensed the same software and technologies that it uses to shrink its own mileage to more than 1,200 other businesses around the world. Here's an excerpt from the sustainability report:

"The products include optimized route planning, real-time wireless dispatch utilizing GPS, strategic territory planning, Web-based reporting, and more. ... Companies have been using UPS Logistics Technologies since 2006, and in 2009, the estimated total of miles not driven was 1.1 billion. This total translates into 1.9 million metric tons of carbon avoidance and cost savings on 186 million gallons of fuel."

By investing this seriously in its own fuel efficiency position, UPS recently was able to expand its carbon neutral shipping services to small businesses worldwide. From a positioning standpoint, this makes UPS an even more attractive option for any eco-friendly business hoping to differentiate from its competitors (now, you might be inclined to choose the green shipping alternative, rather than the overnight alternative).

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure