UPS Appoints Its First Chief Sustainability Officer

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UPS announced the appointment of its first Chief Sustainability Officer, Scott Wicker on March 16. Wicker, an electrical engineer, is UPS’s vice president of corporate plant engineering who has worked for the company for 34 years. A press release details what Wicker has accomplished to advance “sustainability at UPS,” including creating an engineering group “that manages sustainability data for reporting and also leads internal environmental initiatives.” The engineering group oversees a Sustainability Working Committee “that establishes key performance indicators and goals for the company.” Wicker is also on the Corporate Sustainability Steering Committee

“My role is to ensure that UPS continues to lead the industry in sustainable business practices; to introduce innovative, environmentally-responsible products to our customers, and to encourage employee engagement in the communities where they live and work,” said Wicker. “It’s an honor to be appointed to this new position.”

“The creation of the new post recognizes the expanding scope of UPS’s sustainability actions, as well as its strategic importance,” said UPS CEO David Abney. “The long-term success of our company absolutely requires a balance of the environmental, economic and social aspects of the business. Sustainability encompasses all of those areas.”

Wicker compared sustainability to the “wild, wild west,” in an interview with Greenbiz. “Absent government regulation, if you’re trying to be good, it’s not crystal clear what you need to do to be good, so we’re always trying to go an extra step to give customers confidence.”

“There’s no silver bullet,” said Wicker, “All the alternatives are more expensive up front, but promise advantages in the long run that we have to explore.”

Wicker added, “It’s a front-burner issue…As a company, we’d like to get off of fossil fuels.”

Sustainability measures taken by UPS

UPS has undertaken various sustainability measures including offering carbon offsets to customers. The offsets are certified by The CarbonNeutral Company and verified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). UPS will match the first $1 million of offsets purchased by customers.

In 2008, UPS introduced hybrid vehicles into its fleet. A year later, the company began using 245 vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG). UPS claims to operate “one of the largest private alternative fuel fleet in its industry, which includes more than 2,000 compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, hydrogen fuel cell, electric and hybrid electric vehicles.”

UPS uses a continuous descent approach (CDA) to land at airports because it reduces nitrous oxide emissions by 34 percent, and fuel consumption by 40-70 gallons per flight, according to its estimates. The company’s website explains that with CDA an airplane “descends at a continuous 3-degree slope under idle power…at 10 miles from the runway, the aircraft is powered up for landing.”

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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