FedEx and UPS to Get Greener in 2011

Both FedEx and UPS will likely expand their environmental sustainability efforts in the coming year.

The carriers have long tried to minimize costs and maximize environmental stewardship through a variety of initiatives including recycled packaging, aircraft noise reduction, fuel efficiency engineering, and alternative power sources in addition to many other efforts.

For the past decade, UPS’s “package flow technologies” — hardware and software that dynamically optimizes pickup and delivery routes to maximize driver time and minimize fuel burn — have resulted in millions of gallons of fuel saved. UPS has developed advanced cooling systems using outside air to cool data centers, resulting in annual savings of $400,000. It also claims to run the most fuel-efficient airline.

While that both carriers take an earnest interest in environmental stewardship, sustainability efforts contribute to profitability. The fuel saved through package flow technologies alone results in annual savings into the tens of millions.

For its part, FedEx has expanded its use of electric vehicles and has invested in solar technologies. Solar panels installed on the roof of the FedEx Express hub in Oakland, CA, provide power to the facility year round.

In fact, both carriers ranked high on Newsweek’s Green Rankings 2010, a data-driven environmental assessment of the 500 largest U.S. companies. UPS was #62 and FedEx came in at #105.

Rob Martinez (rob@shipware.com) is president/CEO of shipping consultancy Shipware Systems Corp.

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