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How UPS is Going Green in the Air

Updated on January 25, 2012

UPS is known for its big brown trucks but of course they also use planes to get those many packages from one place to another. A few years ago they gained some really negative attention because of the fact that their airplane fleets weren’t too eco-friendly. They got with the act and have been doing things to get greener. Their efforts have been in reducing CO2 emissions as well as increasing the fuel efficiency of their planes. Let’s take a closer look at what they have done since 2005 when they were not doing so hot in terms of air pollution.

Significant Reduction in Emissions

The core method that UPS has used to reduce the negative eco-impact of its airplanes is that they have worked hard to cut down on CO2 emissions. They have set a goal of reducing their CO2 pounds per available ton mile from 1.34 in 2005 to 1.08 by 2020. As of 2009 they were down to 1.22, making the company close to reaching 50% of their goal already. The UPS website reports that they had fewer emissions in 2010 than in 2009.

Better Fuel Efficiency

It is definitely important to reduce emissions if you want to be kind to the earth. However another key issue is reducing fuel usage and that means that you have to improve your fuel efficiency. And better fuel efficiency also means lower CO2 emissions so it all works together to improve the quality of the earth. UPS is hard at work on improving fuel efficiency. The company’s planes were burning 7.32 gallons of fuel per 100 available ton miles in 2005. By 2009 they had already reduced the amount to 6.63, making them well on their way to reaching a 2012 goal of 6.57 gallons per 100 available ton miles. The UPS website reports that they had better fuel efficiency in 2010 than in 2009.

UPS Planes

Part of the way that UPS has succeeded in this area is by keeping a young fleet of airplanes. The average active plane in the UPS fleet in 2010 was thirteen years. That sounds kind of old to me but actually they report that this is one of the youngest fleets in the entire transportation industry. Additionally they train their pilots to use techniques that are designed to maximize the efficiency of the plane. For example, they use a technique called the “continuous descent approach” which is a fuel-saving technique employed when the plane is approaching its arrival airport.

Plans for the Future

Some of the ways that UPS plans to continue towards eco-friendly flying include:

o Investing in even younger planes

o Investing specifically in fuel-efficient planes

o Switching to bio-fuel options as those become available

Potential Report Bias

I just wanted to note here that the information in this report comes from advertising for UPS and from their own website. That presents potential bias in the reporting. However these types of things are regulated by the industry so I would assume that there is at least some truth to the report.


Submit a Comment

  • alocsin profile image

    Aurelio Locsin 

    6 years ago from Orange County, CA

    Glad to hear that UPS is taking all these steps. They deserve my support. Voting this Up and Interesting.


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