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UPS Invests In Renewable Fuels To Power Its Delivery Vehicles

Words by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Leadership & Transparency
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Editor's Note: TriplePundit's spoke with UPS CSO Rhonda Clark about the company's CSR report. Check out the conversation here.

The next time you see a UPS truck coming down the road, think: “green.” Not for the color of American money, but for the company’s efforts to be more environmentally sustainable.

How does a delivery company be more environmentally sustainable? In the case of UPS, by increasing the use of renewable fuels. This week, the company that ensures you receive your packages announced agreements for up to 46 million gallons of renewable fuels over the next three years. That amounts to a 15-fold increase over prior contracts, and the move would make UPS one of the largest users of renewable diesel in the world.

The agreements are with three leading suppliers of renewable fuels: Neste, Renewable Energy Group (REG) and Solazyme. The three companies will supply renewable diesel to UPS, which will help the company achieve its goal of switching over 12 percent of its purchased ground fuel from conventional diesel and gasoline to alternative fuels by the end of 2017. UPS also has the goal of driving 1 billion miles with alternative fuel and advanced technology by the end of 2017. Those are lofty goals from a company clearly serious about becoming more environmentally sustainable.

The latest sustainability report highlights investments in renewable fuels


UPS released its latest Corporate Sustainability Report on the same day it announced its agreements with Neste, REG and Solazyme. The company's 13th annual sustainability report highlights its investment in alternative fuels. As the report acknowledges, a delivery company’s business depends on vehicles, and those vehicles need fuel to move.

By the end of 2014, UPS had over 5,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles operating, helping it move toward its 2017 goals. Those vehicles logged 154 million miles during 2014. To date, certain UPS vehicles have driven 505 million alternative fuel miles and avoided 60 million gallons of conventional fuel. A total of 5.4 percent of its total gas and diesel purchased in 2014 was displaced by alternative fuels, including renewable diesel, according to the report. That puts UPS just over halfway to its goal of 1 billion miles by 2017.

Renewable natural gas (RNG) provides UPS with a “two-for-one” greenhouse gas solution, the report points out. It replaces diesel and other petroleum-based truck fuels, which avoids methane being released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas with a warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide, so avoiding methane emissions is key to combatting climate change. UPS has 19 biomethane heavy-duty trucks in the U.K. that operate on landfill gas.

RNG can “serve as drop-in replacement for traditional petroleum-based diesel without blending or infrastructure constraints,” according to the report. And that is its “most significant advantage.” What that means is that it can be used in both existing conventional engine technology and in refueling infrastructure. In other words, you get the old bang for the buck when you use RNG.

Image credit: UPS

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.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman