UPS & Alliance for Environmental Innovation deliver greener packaging

Joint initiative cuts pollution and boosts bottom line.

by Alliance for Environmental Innovation

unique corporate-environmental alliance has produced an action plan that will help UPS dramatically reduce the amount of natural resources needed to make its express packaging. The joint project, an eight-month review of UPS' packaging with the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, produced concrete, affordable changes for UPS' package production processes. Indeed, once fully implemented, the various changes are expected to actually save the company more than $1 million annually. A full report on the project is available at on the World Wide Web.

"This initiative exceeded our expectations," said Elizabeth Sturcken, policy analyst for the Alliance. "Together, UPS and the Alliance were able to design practical packaging improvements that conserve energy, cut pollution, and reduce solid waste, while delivering better products for the customer and saving money. This is a win for the environment and UPS' bottom line, and an excellent example of business and environmental interests coming together on common ground and sharing expertise."

The new packaging improvements announced today along with the reusable envelope introduced earlier this year will increase the use of post-consumer recycled materials by 22 percent, cut wastewater discharge by more than 15 percent and use 12 percent less energy compared to previous UPS packaging.

"UPS already is seeing impressive business benefits from this environmental project," said Mike Herr, manager of Environmental Affairs at UPS. "Beyond the cost savings, the environmental improvements are a reflection of our long-standing commitment to sound environmental practices. In addition, these changes and new packaging options have been eagerly accepted by many customers and are helping UPS to grow our business."

The packaging results announced today cut across the spectrum of UPS express shipping packages. They include:

  • Nearly doubling the amount of post-consumer recycled material in the UPS box, and using at least 80 percent post-consumer recycled material in the Express Letter.
  • Eliminating the use of bleached paper in all express packaging (lessening pollution of water from chlorinated compounds).
  • Reducing overall waste and pollution from production of shipping materials by an average of 13 percent.
  • Introducing post-consumer recycled material into UPS' plastic PAK and reducing each PAK's weight by almost 10 percent.
  • Market testing reusable options for other packaging.

In addition, UPS has expanded its use of reusable packaging to include the A4 Next Day Air Letter. The A4 envelope is the standard envelope in most countries outside the United States, longer than the standard, 9-by-12 inch US envelopes. It is now available for U.S. and overseas shipments.

The Alliance for Environmental Innovation is a joint initiative of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Alliance works cooperatively with businesses to reduce waste and build environmental considerations into business decisions. By bringing the expertise and perspective of environmental scientists and economists together with the business skills of major corporations, the Alliance creates solutions that make environmental and business sense.

UPS is the world's largest express carrier and package delivery company, serving more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, UPS has been rated the world's most admired mail, package and freight delivery company by Fortune magazine, just six months after winning its 15th consecutive annual award as America's Most Admired transportation company. For more information about UPS' environmental initiatives, visit

  Contact: Elizabeth Sturcken (617) 723-2996 (Alliance); Paula Fulford (404) 828-4242 (UPS).