Last week I was given an exclusive sneak peak at UPS’s latest corporate social responsibility (CSR) report for 2010.  Alas, last minute projects sidelined me, so I (for once)was not one of the first reporters to discuss the amazing sustainability and CSR work at UPS.

The buzz surrounding UPS and last week’s release of their 2010 sustainability report has been focused on CO2, greenhouse gas emissions, and alternative fuels:  all understandable considering the huge impact that logistic firms have on the environment.

But tucked away on page 56 of the 2010 report, companies could learn from UPS’s work on the waste diversion front:

  • Solid waste disposal declined 5 percent in 2010 from 2009 levels.
  • UPS gave more flexibility to local facilities to invest in recycling programs and activities--a smart move because the creative thinking of one individual could eventually roll out world wide.  Employees have to feel they can contribute ideas within their companies, and UPS listens.
  • All that waste diversion efforts led to the equivalent of removing 23,503 cars from the road.
  • E-waste management throughout UPS is hugely impressive, and to me, stood the tallest:  UPS recycled 38,700 pounds of batteries last year, which may sound like a smidgen until you realize how full of toxins those batteries are.
  • If Brown can grow accustomed to reusable bags, so can you when you make that trip to the supermarket.  Since 1995 UPS has used reusable sorting bags within its global operations to the tune of 1.3 million bags.  Each reusable bag prevents the use of 600 single use plastic bags, which in turn prevented over 62,000 tons of plastic from entering landfills.
  • UPS recycled 25 percent of its hazardous waste last year, a huge jump from 2009.

Logistics companies have proven that they are the heavy lifters on the sustainability front, and they are innovators, too.  To that end, UPS sets a very constructive tone.  UPS has a crucial role within the supply chain of countless companies, so its leadership on sustainability and waste diversion will set an example for companies across many industries.  While the metrics laden in UPS’ report are remarkable, even more important is the influence the company can have on smaller firms from leading by example.  If UPS can save money, surely other firms can do so as well, and in my view that intangible influence is most valuable.

Nice work, UPS.  They are making Brown more Green and their White knight efforts help keep the company in the Black.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.