Real Progress in Real-World Conditions

How a culture of collaboration and volunteerism is driving a new – and more effective – approach to sustainability.

For nearly two years, UPS and the drone maker, Zipline, have collaborated on roughly 150 deliveries per day of life-saving blood to 21 transfusing facilities located in the western half of Rwanda. More recently, the campaign has expanded to deliver basic medications, vaccines and medical supplies to all 12 million people across Rwanda.

To launch this program, Zipline worked in partnership with UPS and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. It was a collective effort: UPS contributed significant healthcare logistics experience to this life-saving cause – as well as funding from The UPS Foundation – and Gavi helped identify communities most in need of aid.

This unique collaboration underscores one of the most important humanitarian lessons: No one can go it alone. Complex problems require multiple partners who contribute their unique strengths to make an impact. In other words, the whole is much more beneficial than the sum of its parts.

Jim Barber accepts the 2018 British American Business Corporate Citizenship Award.

Giving more

Of course, the need for partnership doesn’t just stop at delivering medical supplies in Africa. Every day, UPS is partnering with governments and organizations to create better communities around the world.

We support volunteerism in the communities where we live and work. Our goal is to contribute 20 million hours of community service by the end of 2020 across our network of 454,000 employees in 220 countries and territories around the world.

As you can see in our newest Sustainability Progress Report, we’re working on it. Our Rolling Laboratory, one of the industry’s largest private alternative fuel and advanced technology fleets, now includes approximately 9,100 all-electric, electric hybrid, propane, CNG and LNG vehicles.

Click here to learn more about UPS’s electric vehicles in the latest Sustainability Report.

We work with our suppliers to test alternative fuels and technologies to see how they perform in real-world operating conditions. Then we’re able to quickly deploy viable options at scale, riding market growth for alternative solutions.

These vehicles have logged more than 1 billion miles around the world. To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 14 round trips to Mars.

This is all part of our effort to reduce absolute emissions across our global ground operations by 12 percent by 2025 – which means that even as our business grows and delivery volume increases, our overall emissions will decrease.

We’re making this commitment as our network grows alongside e-commerce volume. At the same time, cities are growing more crowded every day, and there is no sign of this trend abating.

Getting to 2050

In fact, the United Nations projects two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.

The convergence of these two issues – e-commerce and urbanization – is creating infrastructure and quality-of-life challenges in urban areas.

Simply put, we need to figure out how to move goods while minimizing our impact on the environment. This will require us to do things differently and try new approaches to drive more sustainable logistics.

To do this, UPS is partnering with a growing number of cities, academics and other businesses to create sustainable transport solutions.

Take the city of Hamburg, for example.

Like many cities in Europe, narrow streets line Hamburg’s inner city, and parking is almost non-existent. This creates a challenge for business and the environment.

At the same time, the city is working toward Germany’s broader efforts to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2020 and about 80 percent by 2050.

We worked with city officials on a simple, yet effective way to address this challenge.

Instead of driving a truck through narrow city streets, why not have UPS drivers pick up deliveries from a storage container of consolidated shipments in the center of the city and deliver packages with electrically assisted tricycles?

That’s exactly what we did. Now we’re making fewer trips to package centers while reducing congestion and noise.

The city minister has called this program a “game-changer.”

Finding more game changers

We’ve expanded our Hamburg e-trike model to other cities, including Pittsburgh, Toronto and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And we’re partnering with other cities to use a similar mix of technology and creative thinking in Dublin, Paris and London, with more cities to follow.

Earlier this year, we helped deploy a radical new electric vehicle charging technology that will allow UPS to increase the number of electric vehicles operating from our central London site – from 65 to all 170 trucks based there.

This major advance was a first of its kind and wouldn’t have been possible without our partners: UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership (with funding from the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles).

Most recently, we announced another partnership with the firm ARRIVAL to develop a pilot fleet of 35 electric delivery vehicles to be trialed in London and Paris.

In our new Sustainability Progress Report, you can read more about how we are using our 110 years of logistics expertise, forging global partnerships and contributing to a better world.

This article was adapted from Jim Barber’s acceptance speech at the British American Business’s Corporate Citizenship Awards in London. BAB awarded UPS for its exceptional commitment to corporate citizenship.

Top image: BritishAmerican Business

Visit Jim Barber's Linkedin profile page.
Jim Barber is Chief Operating Officer at UPS.

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