Recycling & Conservation
We take seriously our commitment to recycling and source reduction. From solving new challenges to raising the bar for our industry and gracing the bottom line in the process, UPS is constantly looking for new ways to reduce packaging and limit waste. During 2010, UPS continued or expanded numerous initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption and emissions from facilities while conserving natural resources.
Lighting is one of major stationary sources of energy use and emissions, in part because our distribution centers are large facilities that remain in operation overnight. In 2010, our multi-year lighting upgrade program replace or upgraded 16,368 fixtures. The total since 2007 is more than 98,000 fixtures, with an estimated annual energy savings of more than 34 million kWh.
Solid Waste, E-Waste and Battery Recycling
At UPS, solid waste mainly takes the form of corrugated containers and wood pallets. Our solid waste disposal total was 220,269 tons, with 97,222 tons recycled and 1,123 tons recovered for reuse. We also carefully manage our e-waste, which includes desktop computers, laptops, services, hard drives, cables, keyboards, telephones, cell phones, routers, switches printers and media such as CDs. Since 2000, the program has recycled 32.1 million pounds. In 2011, we recycled 40,200 pounds of batteries.
We introduced the industry's first Reusable Next Day Air envelope in 1998, which is bleach free and 100 percent recycled fiber (80 percent post-consumer). While it cuts down on waste by allowing one envelope to be used twice, the Reusable Envelope also provides convenience to customers, like mortgage brokers and attorneys, who have to ship documents for their clients to sign and return.
In 1998, UPS accepted the challenge from The Alliance for Environmental Innovation to improve the environmental profile of packaging in the transportation industry. Our express packaging was redesigned to eliminate bleached paper and increase the use of post-consumer recycled content - changes that not only reduced paper usage, but also reduced the amount of energy used in the manufacturing process by 12 percent. Among the packaging items:
- UPS Express Envelope: 100 percent recycled fiber (80 percent post-consumer content)
- UPS Express Pak: 15 percent post-consumer content
- UPS Express Box: 100 percent recycled fiber (90 percent post-consumer content)
- UPS Express Tube: 100 percent recycled fiber (90 percent post-consumer content)
- UPS 10 KG Box and UPS 25 KG Box: 30 percent post-consumer content
Additionally, The UPS Store® locations have an ongoing effort to encourage consumers to bring in foam packing peanuts to be reused and recycled.
UPS also offers customers their expertise through the UPS Eco-Responsible Packaging program. Customers receive an assessment of their shipment packaging processes in three areas: damage prevention, right-sizing, and materials content.
The efficient use of water is essential to future commerce and quality of life. Due to its cost and scarcity in many locations, there is also a direct bottom-line benefit to reducing water use. We are committed to researching and implementing conservation initiatives such as the following:
- Vehicle Washing Policy: In 1995, we changed our policy for washing delivery vehicles, saving 365 million gallons of water annually. Instead of washing them every day, we wash them as needed to maintain their appearance.
- Water reclamation systems: many UPS facilities have wash tunnels equipped with active systems to reclaim water for reuse.
- Vehicle Wash Agent (VWA): UPS uses an environmentally friendly enzyme wash agent
- Dry-wash airplanes
- Upgrade new facilities with low-flow water fixtures
From 2007-2011 in our U.S. domestic segment (our largest segment), we have cut normalized water consumption by 27 percent.