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How supply chain sustainability is driving the future of business

Factory workers checking thermostat in factory

With global spending on e-commerce reaching $3 trillion in 2018, businesses need to think about the environmental impact of all those home deliveries. From both a commercial and environmental perspective, increasing sustainability is essential to the future of your business.

Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the logistics sector where there are numerous opportunities to promote sustainability across the supply chain.

At UPS, we are continuously looking for ways to work with our customers and partners to support sustainable supply chain practices. Our recently published sustainability report highlights our 2018 efforts towards a more sustainable network.

Here’s how UPS is creating solutions for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Why supply chain sustainability?

Supply chain sustainability, the practice of mitigating the environmental impact of commercial activity throughout the product lifecycle, is central to UPS’s mission.

It’s perhaps no surprise that businesses are more aware than ever of the need to drive environmental sustainability throughout the global supply chain. Our planet’s resources are finite, and it’s clear that the way companies conduct their business has a direct impact on conservation.

At UPS, we take our responsibility as a steward of the planet seriously. On any given day, 3% of the world’s gross domestic product passes through our global logistics network.

But we can’t do it alone, so we cultivate collaborative partnerships with the myriad organizations we work with every day. Agreeing on, and then working toward, shared sustainability initiatives not only makes sense for business but is good for the planet.

Reducing our carbon footprint 

Reducing your carbon footprint at work  involves a range of measures, such as introducing a recycling system or installing energy saving measures around the workplace. Take UPS’s new Paris sortation facility, which is fitted with LED lighting and uses barrels to collect rainwater for washing vehicles.

Our commitment to sustainable shipping  extends directly to our fleet. In the past decade, UPS has invested more than $1 billion in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. Our goal is to achieve 40% adoption of alternative fuel as a proportion of total ground fuel by 2025.

Support for sustainable packaging 

More packages are being delivered within local communities and across international borders than ever before. In 2018, UPS delivered a total of 5.2 billion packages worldwide. Given that almost everything a business ships requires some form of outer protection, how can we work together to support eco-friendly packaging?

With a little planning, adopting sustainable packaging practices don't need to be hard. Explore the range of reusable transport packaging, such as plastic pallets and reusable crates, available through UPS. And take your eco-shipping  credentials to the next level with the UPS® Eco Responsible Packaging Program. Shippers able to demonstrate sustainable packaging practices based on criteria for damage prevention, appropriate sizing, and material selection are eligible for program membership.

For further inspiration in getting your reusable packaging  drive off the ground, check out TerraCycle and its reusable and returnable system for product packaging, named Loop™. Consumer goods are delivered in durable packaging and then collected and reused: it’s an excellent example of   in action. The Loop’s outer tote packaging, tested in partnership with the UPS Package Design and Test Lab, is reusable too.

Finally, ask your neighborhood The UPS Store® about earth-friendly air pillow and retention packaging, and whether the location participates in the peanut recycling program.

Supply chain efficiencies for receiving and returning goods

Getting your goods on their way is one thing, but what about solutions for making the receipt and return of goods as light touch as possible? The more efficient the delivery and the more frictionless the return logistics, the lower the environmental impact through reduced emissions.

UPS has worked diligently in recent years to give our residential and commercial customers increasing control over where, how, and when they receive their packages. Through the success of programs such as UPS My Choice®  (and the recently launched UPS My Choice for business), customers have the ability to determine the delivery details that best suit them, resulting in fewer missed deliveries and greater protection against lost or stolen packages. Similarly, Latch, the smart access device that permits UPS drivers to enter multi-unit buildings and deliver packages to a lobby or package room, is helping connect packages with their rightful recipients at the first attempt. And the UPS® Chatbot makes communicating delivery preferences easier than ever for our customers.

Sustainability starts at home

At UPS, we deliver more than 20 million packages daily around the globe and are proud to employ almost half a million passionate and talented people. As an organization, we are deeply committed to doing more to lessen our footprint in the world and to support our customers and partner organizations in their efforts to achieve the same goal.

Find out more about UPS’s commitment to supporting eco-friendly shipping throughout the supply chain in our annual sustainability report.

Find Out More

  • The UPS Commitment to Sustainability

    Get help to pioneer more sustainable solutions for your business, and deliver packages more efficiently.

    Learn more about sustainability solutions
  • UPS Returns and Reverse Logistics

    Create a competitive advantage with returns that work for your customers, your brand and your bottom line.

    Learn about UPS Returns solutions
  • Sustainability Consulting Services

    See how The UPS Foundation is responding to the world’s most pressing social, environmental and humanitarian needs.

    Learn more about The UPS Foundation
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