Little things make a big green difference

A package center in China steps up sustainability efforts
Sustainability in Guangzhou China Sustainability in Guangzhou China Sustainability in Guangzhou China

As e-commerce continues to grow, it’s important for companies like UPS, and UPSers themselves, to do everything they can to reduce the environmental impact.

The UPS Guangzhou East Center in China is doing just that with eco-friendly packaging, customer education, electric vehicles and smart energy. Combined together, these incremental changes make a real difference.

Clever boxing

The commitment to eco-friendly packaging at the Guangzhou East Center begins with reuse. Customers are encouraged to reuse packaging materials where possible, with new ones provided only if necessary. The center also uses new packing tape 25% smaller than the type used previously.

To reduce waste during the shipping process, the center packages small export goods in RNC (reusable network container) bags before shipping them to UPS’s Intra-Asia Hub in Shenzhen about 135 km away. Here, the same bags are emptied and refilled with packages destined for Guangzhou. This reduces the overall need for packaging and contributes to a circular economy.

UPS also helps businesses offset the climate impact of shipping through UPS carbon neutral, a solution that gives companies the option to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of any shipment. These contributions are then reinvested in environmental conservation projects such as the Chol Charoen wastewater treatment plant in Thailand, which captures emissions released from wastewater to produce electricity.

Green fleets on streets

Going electric is part of UPS’s efforts to transform transportation, given its fleet vehicles make the majority of the company’s near-25 million package and document deliveries every day. Recognizing the need to change the way it operates, UPS has invested in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, including electric vehicles and natural gas-powered trucks.

The Guangzhou East Center is getting on board with sustainable transport through its fleet of electric vehicles. These vehicles save thousands of kilograms worth of CO2 emissions every year.

And energy savings are not limited to just vehicles. The Guangzhou East Center processes thousands of packages each day, meaning bills for even simple things like electricity can add up. So the center decided to use low-energy LED lights which has resulted in a drop in energy consumption of over 35% compared to the previous center.

“Making these improvements takes time and careful planning, but the benefits are undeniable,” said Ben Hu, manager for the center. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our customers, and it’s nice to know we’re spreading a positive message.”


A global focus

Sustainability is a key focus for UPS globally, with the company continuing to make progress in areas beyond packaging, vehicles and smart energy, such as replacing paper waybills with e-waybills, investing more in conservation projects, and exploring new urban delivery options that provide more flexibility to customers and reduce traffic congestion.

In China, where the Guangzhou East Center is located, the government recently introduced its Green Post program which includes certain sustainability requirements. To encourage companies to comply, there are plans to create a system where points are awarded for operating sustainably and deducted where not. The scores will then be available to view online.

“UPS is proud to be at the forefront of providing green logistics solutions in Asia Pacific, and we hope that by continuing to take these steps in the right direction, it will give us the opportunity to make a meaningful difference,” said Monrudee Theeraworawit, director, China marketing at UPS.

“Whether it’s using reusable packaging and thinner tape, or more efficient light bulbs and electric vehicles, sometimes small changes can have the biggest impact on the future. And we all have a part to play in that.”

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