USPS and UPS Team Up to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

USPS and UPS launch "Blue and Brown Make Green" initiativeThe U.S. Postal Service and UPS are about to demonstrate how business rivals can combine forces to improve their bottom lines while cutting out waste and pollution. The two have just embarked on a “unique partnership” called Blue and Brown Make Green, which is aimed at reducing the carbon footprints of both the world’s biggest government mail service and package delivery company.

This is no small experiment. If the two achieve significant gains, it could prove to be a best practices model that will have a ripple effect throughout the global transportation sector. So far, USPS and UPS have released only a few details, though, so it will also be interesting to see what develops as the initiative rolls out.

A Platform for Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A brief video about Blue and Brown Make Green provides a glimpse into a key element of the initiative. Hosted by U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Donahoe, and UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis, the video suggests that Blue and Brown Make Green will build on an existing network of greenhouse gas-reducing shared services network that the two entities have been developing.

For the past several years, USPS has been providing its sophisticated ground delivery network to UPS to move the company’s packages along the “last mile” of their journey while cutting down on duplicate delivery trucks.

The relationship also provides UPS customers with convenient access to package return at USPS locations, which could have the additional benefit of helping customers reduce their driving miles.

For its part, UPS has been making its aircraft fleet available to USPS to piggyback on long distance deliveries.

USPS and UPS will also be focusing on shared supply chain issues. Again, details are in short supply so far, but it appears that the partnership could enable USPS and UPS to maximize their use of alternative fuels in vehicles and aircraft.

A World of Possibilities

UPS has a strong, diverse sustainability track record that includes a Greener Shipping campaign in partnership with TriplePundit. Other recent activities include a hybrid truck partnership with the U.S. EPA and the company Eaton.

USPS has its own slate of ambitious sustainability projects and partnerships, including a massive green roof at its Morgan facility in Manhattan.

Together, the two entities have built up a substantial portfolio of conservation experiences along with multiple public and private partnerships, so Blue and Brown Make Green has an enormous potential for growth beyond the sketch laid out in the launch video.

What’s the Big Rush?

As a side note, it’s worth asking why USPS and UPS launched the initiative now, when it appears to recap existing activities rather than describing a detailed new program.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to pick that apart, but keep in mind that due to some shenanigans in Congress over USPS pension contributions a while back, that agency is in dire financial straits.

Something has to give if USPS is to continue in its present form, and the new campaign could be UPS’s way of reminding federal legislators that the two entities are closely entwined. In other words, if the government mail delivery agency sneezes, UPS could catch a cold. Ensuring the continued survival of the USPS is not just a public sector issue, it’s a private sector issue, to0.

If you have any insights into that angle, feel free to drop a comment in the thread below.

[Image: Mail slot by mlinksva, flickr]

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

Tina writes frequently for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

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