FedEx Tackles Emissions: On the Ground and in the Air

FedEx
When you’re reviewing a sustainability report, you simply can’t focus on everything. You have to pick a focus. As I read through FedEx’s seventh annual Global Citizenship Report, I became very interested in its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. Climate change is a very real threat, so it’s great when a global shipping company like FedEx does something to reduce its impact.

The No. 1 culprit: Aircraft emissions

Part of the company’s emissions reductions come through fuel efficiency, which it makes a top priority. That makes sense given that the main source of its scope 1 emissions is jet fuel. Through its FedEx Fuel Sense and aircraft modernization programs, the company saved over 100 million gallons of jet fuel in 2014, which avoided more than 976,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.

FedEx has over 650 airplanes, and reducing aircraft emissions is key to shrinking its overall emissions. To that end, the shipping company has a goal of reducing aircraft emissions intensity by 30 percent by 2020. So far, it has cut the intensity by 21.4 percent. Plus, its year-over-year aircraft emissions continued to decrease last year as absolute jet fuel use was reduced by over 34.4 million gallons.

The report attributes the emissions reductions to the Fuel Sense programs and modernizing its aircraft fleet. Launched in 2007, Fuel Sense has saved over 334 million gallons of jet fuel and avoided over 3.25 million metric tons of carbon emissions. In 2014, FedEx launched seven new Fuel Sense programs, such as reducing the weight it flies by transitioning to lighter containers and replacing pilots’ paper manuals with electronic versions. The heavier an aircraft is, the more fuel it requires.

Addressing vehicle fuel efficiency

Vehicles are the second biggest source of FedEx’s scope 1 GHG emissions. The company’s goal is to increase vehicle fuel efficiency by 30 percent by 2020, a goal it has nearly met by achieving a 29.5 percent increase.

Fleet upgrades are another way to reduce emissions. Upgrading to more efficient and cleaner vehicles is a focus of the company. There are several examples, including:

  • Replacing 177 of its less efficient local pickup and delivery vehicles with more efficient Ford Transit Connects, saving 68,443 gallons of fuel and 626 metric tons of carbon emissions.
  • Increasing the amount of Isuzu Reach vans in the U.S. by 1,700. The vans are lighter and have smaller engines, making them 35 to 50 percent more efficient than the vehicles they replaced.
  • Adding 24 hybrid-electric vehicles, 171 electric vehicles and 10 compressed natural gas (CNG) Chevy vans to its U.S. fleet.
  • Replacing over 450 vehicles in Brazil with more efficient models.
  • Reducing fuel consumption on certain Caribbean routes by an average of 20 percent by replacing older vehicles with Toyota HiAce diesel trucks.

Buildings and scope 2 emissions

FedEx has about 5,000 facilities around the globe, which include air and ground hubs, as well as local stations. Electricity use at those facilities accounts for all of its scope 2 emissions. The company focuses on installing energy-saving technologies and on-site solar power. One of its energy conservation goals is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on all new U.S. FedEx Express buildings. So far, 10 FedEx Express buildings are LEED certified and six more are being reviewed for certification.

Another energy conservation goal is expanding on-site solar power and continuing to procure renewable energy for its facilities. FedEx has 11 on-site solar power arrays, which produced over 8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014 and avoided 3,145 metric tons of carbon emissions. At least two more solar power installations are planned for this year.

Image credit: myJon

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 Mashable.com.