UPS Offers Carbon Offset Program for Shippers

UPS continues as innovators in the small package delivery sector, announcing this week a new program offering its customers the option of offsetting the emissions generated by transporting their packages within the United States.

U.S. customers simply opt to pay a flat rate, covering the cost of calculation, program administration, and the cost of the actual offset. UPS will match offset purchases in 2009-2010, up to $1 million, thus doubling the effectiveness of the program.

The per-package cost for the carbon offset program is five cents for UPS Ground, and twenty cents for UPS Next Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 3 Day Select services. The service is initially available to the approximately 1 million U.S. customers using UPS Internet Shipping with their UPS account number, with plans to roll the service out to other UPS customers next year.

Calculating emissions, offsets purchased

Emissions calculations are based on a variety of historical and current operational data, including distance and transport mode. The company’s calculation methods and processes are verified by Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), using a calculator based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international standard for carbon accounting and reporting.

UPS purchases Gold Standard, Voluntary Carbon Standard and Climate Action Reserve verified offsets, as well as European Union Allowances and Certified Emission Reduction offsets. The carbon offset process is certified by The CarbonNeutral Company.

Carbon analysis for large customers

UPS also now offers its larger, high-volume customers a complete carbon analysis service of the customer’s entire UPS shipping activity. Using a proprietary calculator, also verified through SGS, customers can then use the data to either purchase offsets directly or through UPS.

Steps to sustainability

“We believe these steps are important not just for UPS, but also for our customers,” says Bob Stoffel, senior vice president, engineering, strategy, supply chain and sustainability.  “Our global economy depends upon reliable transportation, so we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.”

This latest announcement from UPS is one in a line of steps we’ve chronicled here in TriplePundit of the shipper’s ongoing efforts in environmental and social responsibility. As with any offset program, the best greenhouse gas emission is the one not emitted. And then there’s the real world where people move, ship packages, and do business. Well-conceived programs like this are one more step toward sustainability.

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

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