In UPS’s recently released annual Sustainability Report, the company states that it is aiming for zero waste, with two of its facilities achieving that goal in 2012.
The company is incorporating the World Business Council’s “Vision 2050,” which includes the aim of “not a particle of waste” and landfills being phased out within the next two decades. This element has been included in UPS’s environmental sustainability program. With that in mind, UPS chose two of its facilities as good candidates for diverting at least 90% of their waste from landfill or incineration and used them as “test beds” in 2012 to collect baseline data and establish a waste transition process. The two facilities achieved the target waste diversion rate, and the company now plans to move the initiative forward in other facilities.
UPS says that, despite package volume growth in the US domestic package segment and in the US operations of the company’s Supply Chain & Freight segment, facilities in the US cut their solid waste disposal by 6.5% in 2012 compared to 2011. The company also continued its initiative to improve its recycling programs at over 1,200 facilities in the US, helping to increase the tonnage of solid waste recycled by 37.5% compared to 2011. This in turn saved UPS more than US$1.7 million in disposal costs.
The company also says that in 2012, UPS operating facilities in the United States generated 1,475 tons of hazardous waste. The company says that to ensure hazardous waste is properly disposed of, it is managed through approved national vendors that have a documented track record of compliance with recognized industry disposal practices.
These vendors “are generally well established, observe industry standard safety procedures, and are regularly audited by UPS and/or an outside auditor to ensure compliance with laws and regulations,” the report states. UPS’s contracts with national and local vendors specify that the company receives a “cradle to grave” certification letter specifying responsible waste and disposal methods.
UPS is currently collecting and disclosing data for solid, hazardous, and non-hazardous waste for operations in the US, based on information provided by its waste disposal vendors. Because UPS is not involved in manufacturing, its management and mitigation of effluents and waste is limited primarily to solid waste disposal and recycling from supplier packaging, pallets, scrap metal, office paper, plastics and mixed recycling, and facility-generated waste from aircraft maintenance, vehicle maintenance, and facility operations.
In order to keep tabs on its environmental performance, UPS has in place an extensive Environmental Management System (EMS) in the US for monitoring and following up on issues and opportunities that may arise. To ensure that policies are practiced, the company employs Region Environmental Managers and District Environmental Coordinators throughout its operations. Their role is to monitor and maintain compliance with environmental regulations, to train other operational personnel, and to raise awareness regarding all environmental aspects of its operations. Training programs to assist Environmental Coordinators cover a wide range of topics, including hazardous waste management, water and air quality, automotive environmental procedures, spill response plans, and underground storage tanks.