UPS Announces Smart Pickup, a New Green Shipping Option for Businesses

Shipping options for small- and mid-size businesses just got a shade greener.

Yesterday, UPS announced the launch of UPS Smart Pickup, an eco-friendly shipping system that uses innovative UPS technology to ensure that a UPS driver stops at a customer location to pick up a package only when a package is, in fact, being shipped.

Up until now, many of UPS’s small- and mid-size customers have opted for the convenience of a daily scheduled pickup. And, while that option is certainly convenient, it also comes with a significant hitch: on some days, there simply isn’t a package to ship. UPS shows up as scheduled, but the trip is completely unnecessary.

Once a company starts using UPS Smart Pickup, however, these superfluous trips can be eliminated. In short, the new system allows customers to automate the pickup process and schedule UPS service only when it’s needed.

UPS says its new UPS Smart Pickup is expected to:

  • eliminate 8 million miles from the total driven by UPS each year in the United States
  • save an estimated 793,000 gallons of fuel, and
  • reduce CO2 emissions by 7,800 metric tonnes.

All told, that’s the equivalent of keeping about 1,500 cars off the road for a year.

The weekly flat fee for UPS Smart Pickup is $10 (significantly less than the $75 or so companies pay for scheduled daily pickup options). But, at least for now, the service is only available in the U.S.

UPS announced UPS Smart Pickup at a forum it held yesterday morning at the Benjamin Hotel in Manhattan.  Called the “Decision Green Technology Forum: Greening Your Supply Chain,” the event showcased how technological innovation has been an integral part of UPS’s sustainability efforts.

For instance, UPS is the first and only delivery company to use a paperless inventory process –an initiative that has saved 105 million sheets of paper since 2008. The company also uses high-tech route planning to minimize left-hand turns by delivery drivers.  This seemingly “small” step has significantly decreased the idling time of UPS trucks, which in turn reduces fuel use, costs and GHG emissions. (UPS estimates that one hour of idling time burns the equivalent of one gallon of fuel.) What’s more, minimizing left turns also improves route efficiency and safety.

All of these initiatives are part of UPS’s comprehensive environmental platform, called Decision Green. This platform encompasses a wide range of programs, including ones designed to improve data center energy efficiency, employ alternative fuel fleets, research effective packaging options, analyze and optimize supply chains and help customers achieve carbon neutral shipping.

According to Dave Barnes, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at UPS, the company considers environmental performance an opportunity for business advantage and competitive differentiation among both customers and investors.

“We think that our drive to be lean and green is the right cultural aspect for UPS,” he said.”This is not just an initiative that’s going to go with the wind. This is part of the DNA of UPS, part of our culture.”

In fact, as Barnes sees it, “all companies can do well by doing good.” The key, he said, is for businesses to balance three things: economic prosperity, social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

“Each one of these elements is important to UPS’s bottom line. Not one is more important than another. They all have an equal weight at UPS,” Barnes explained. “We continue to see the truth behind this fundamental principle at UPS, not only in our business and those things that UPS does around the world, but in what we do for our customers’ businesses, as well.”

Increasingly, companies are looking to UPS for ways to reduce GHG emissions and improve environmental performance in their supply chains, Barnes said.

“Sustainability is part of reality today. Customers and investors are expecting it,” he concluded.

As a corporate content specialist and a ghostwriter for C-level executives, Kathryn's work appears at Forbes, Industry Week and other leading trade publications and websites. She focuses on topics related to science, business sustainability, supply chain risk management and marketing. Find out more about Kathryn at . You can follow Kathryn on Twitter: @CorpWriter4Hire.