FedEx Wins Big in Efficiency & Reduced Aircraft Emissions

Another FedEx truck. Source: Wikipedia Commons
Another FedEx truck. Source: Wikipedia Commons

As the world becomes more interconnected, and cross-border commerce helps lift millions out of poverty, logistics companies that are so important to supply chains must find a balance between optimal efficiency and mitigating their impact on people, communities, and the planet.  To that end, the most recent Fedex Global Citizenship report is a compelling case study of how microeconomic approaches can help solve large scale, macroeconomic challenges.

FedEx has enormous reach: its workforce of 300,000 delivers goods across the globe, handles logistics for companies and their suppliers, and still provides last-gasp office services like photocopying for forgetful traveling sales executives and frantic college students who wait until 3:00 a.m. to print a report.  For a company dependent on energy-intensive vehicles, vulnerable to fuel price fluctuations, and reliant upon engaged and motivated employees, the drive for increased corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices has countless twists and turns.

To that end, today’s release of FedEx’s Global Citizen report offers the following highlights:

  • The company increased its vehicle fleet’s fuel efficiency by 15.1 percent since 2005. It is on the path towards meeting a 20 percent total fuel efficiency goal by 2020.
  • Aircraft CO2 emissions declined 13.5 percent during 2010, which also will help lead FedEx to achieve a 20 percent aircraft emissions reduction by 2020.
  • Currently FedEx’s fleet includes 365 hybrid-electric vehicles and 43 electric vehicles; indeed a tiny proportion of the company’s armada but pointed in the right direction.
  • The company increased charitable giving to 1.5 percent of FedEx’s pre-tax profits, compared to the average American corporation’s percentage of 1.1%.  FedEx also sets aside about 4 million pounds of charitable shipping annually, and that increased last year to 5.2 million pounds with the Haiti earthquake and Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

On the energy efficiency front, FedEx’s work includes standardizing LEED certification for newly built FedEx Express facilities in the U.S.; investing in solar power installations; and retrofitting forklifts with hydrogen fuel cells at one Missouri facility.

FedEx also offers its employees the flexibility to discover new ways to save energy, reduce waste, or improve employee morale and engagement.  Managers in Arizona implemented waste diversion efforts that launched a recycling program nationwide that reduced waste removal costs by 25 percent.  A senior sustainability manager recommended co-mingled, or single stream recycling processes, which improved recycling performance while reducing costs.  Finally, a customer service manager in Germany had the freedom to sort out how to integrate FedEx’s corporate values with local cultural norms.  That local leadership model not only turned around FedEx’s performance in Germany, but caught on throughout the company with the result that FedEx has been named a “best place to work” in over 20 counties.

FedEx’s global citizen efforts are an example of how performance and sustainability do not have to compete, but in fact, together are integral if companies are to succeed at a time of scorching global competition, rising prices, with the added demands for an improved quality of life facing diminishing resources.  The report launches today and is available here.

Leon Kaye is a business writer and consultant, Editor and Founder of and contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

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