How UPS and USPS teamed up to create a new industry standard

How UPS and USPS teamed up to create a new industry standard

The United States Postal Service and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) have teamed up to deliver a special sustainability package aimed at reducing the carbon footprints for the world's largest postal and delivery companies.

Specifically, the companies will share carbon data information that will help track their transportation and delivery emissions. As a result, both will benefit from understanding how they can operate more efficiently.

"This collaboration will not only help us be more cost effective, it will also help us reduce our carbon footprint," said Thomas G. Day, chief sustainability officer for USPS.

The creation of this measurement is huge because along with FedEx, the companies represent the vast majority of the postal and delivery sector.

The United States Postal Service is the world’s largest mail service, delivering nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail to more than 151 million addresses in the United States.

In 2011, UPS delivered more than four billion packages and documents to more than 220 countries and territories.

Kara Gerhardt Ross, a spokeswoman for UPS, said in an email that her company is excited about the possibilities of the project.

"While the Postal Service and UPS remain competitors, customers get lower prices and new products. Our planes and trucks can minimize empty space and across our supply chain, less fuel is burned, and less carbon is emitted," she said.

In a joint video address, U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General and Chief Executive Patrick Donahoe and UPS Chairman and Chief Executive Scott Davis underscore the strength of the partnership between both organizations.

The two companies have a long history of working together.

"We take advantage of the UPS transportation network and they benefit from our ability to deliver to all addresses in the U.S.," Day said. "It's actually more effective for UPS to give us packages to deliver to rural or suburban areas because we go everywhere."

Last year, UPS carried millions of pounds of USPS letter and package mail across the country and around the world.

Image of packages and earth provided by Franck Boston/Shutterstock

Day said the companies sat down several months ago to figure out how to create the joint project known as Blue and Brown Make Green.

"Both of our staffs worked together to figure out how this can be done," he said. "A good chunk of our discussion was going through methodology. Our staffs had to sit down and understand how each (company) got their numbers."

Day said part of the challenge was that there is currently no single standard for measuring carbon data, so the companies had to find a way to align their programs.

"UPS does a great job, but they do things slightly different than what we do," he said.

Day said he is also hoping to include FedEx in the new carbon data sharing system. USPS also has a long standing partnership with FedEx in its deliveries.

For now, the new system for the companies will only be in place in the United States.

"International delivery is a much more complex system and it makes measurement of carbon footprints that much more challenging," he said.

Gerhardt Ross said the new system is the wave of the future.

"By sharing sustainability data we are able to measure the total carbon footprint of supply chains involving more than one company and reduce greenhouse gases," she said.

Day said he hopes that eventually all international post companies can create a singular carbon data measurement. USPS is a member of the global postal industry’s program, the International Post Corporation, which is developing an international environmental system.