Wednesday Showcase: UPS

The global logistics company is now championing biomethane to continue its impressive track record in cutting carbon emissions


Driving sustainability

Any company which delivers goods across the world faces considerable challenges when it comes to limiting its environmental impact, which is why UPS has continually prioritised carbon reduction.

In 2012 alone the company cut its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2.1% despite a 2.3% increase in global shipping volume. It also has a great amee Environmental Score of 89.

Savings initially came through strategies such as ‘modal shifting’ – for example using trains rather than planes, and efficiency improvements – for example telematics data and vehicle sensors to reduce road miles.

But such strategies can only achieve so much.

That’s why UPS has been pushing the UK Government to make biomethane (a byproduct of waste organic matter like food and sewage) a more readily-available alternative fuel for trucks.

UPS is about to double its fleet of biomethane vehicles from 10 to 20, and would like this to be the beginning of a transport-fuel revolution. After all, progress on decarbonising the transport sector has thus far been very limited.

Organic Fuel

Currently the biogas from waste organic matter is mainly used for electricity generation, but there are strong arguments that it would be more effective to use it to power heavy goods vehicles, for which there are few sustainable alternatives.

A similar conclusion is made in a new academic report in the journal Renewable Energy, which argues that biomethane could even compete on price with diesel and petrol, provided production facilities are built large enough.

The lack of financial incentives for biogas producers is one of the biggest obstacles to the more widespread use of biomethane, which is why UPS is lobbying the Government to deliver a more cohesive cross-departmental strategy on the issue.  

The potential to cut carbon is huge, with each unit of biomethane cutting well-to-wheel emissions by 70% compared to diesel, not to mention improving air quality and helping the UK to reduce its dependence on imported oil.  

Earlier this year UPS unveiled 100 fully electric delivery vans in California, each with a range of 75 miles, and now operates more than 2,500 alternative fuel vehicles across the world, including hybrid, electric and natural gas technologies.   

If UPS can continue these efforts then another link in the supply chain is set to become much more secure and sustainable.

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