UPS Offers CO2 Offsets to Its Customers, $0.05 to $0.20 Per Package

UPS carbon neutral shipping offsets photo

Image: UPS
This is Pretty Big News
Carbon offsets are certainly controversial and not perfect, but despite their shortcomings they're still a good way to funnel money from the people who buy the products and services responsible for pollution to green projects like wind power, reforestation, methane capture, etc. The end result might not always be 100% "carbon neutral" as claimed, and if it is, it might not stay that way indefinitely, but a small step in the right direction is better than nothing. This is why I'm happy to learn that UPS has become the first small package carrier to offer CO2 offsets to its customers. And they're pretty inexpensive...
How it Will Work
UPS writes:

The per-package price for the optional service is $0.05 for UPS Ground services and $0.20 for UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air® and UPS 3 Day Select® services. Based on customer feedback, a flat fee is used to make it simple and convenient for those wishing to participate. The price includes the cost of calculation, administrative costs associated with the service and the cost of the offsets.

That's a small enough amount that many people should opt-in (I hope). In fact, this could almost be a opt-out feature, to show that the default state should be for people to take responsibility for their greenhouse gas emissions. And if even a small fraction of UPS customers decide to offset their packages, this could represent some serious money going into green projects.

Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) is monitoring the way UPS is calculating its emissions, including:

  • Scope 1: direct emissions from combustion of fuel in UPS operated ground vehicle fleet, combustion of fuel in UPS operated aircraft, stationary sources associated with UPS controlled facilities globally
  • Scope 2: indirect emissions associated with purchased electricity in UPS controlled facilities globally
  • Scope 3: combustion of fuel in ocean, air, rail and ground transportation, operated by third parties in providing delivery services to UPS

UPS will buy Gold Standard, Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) certified offsets, in addition to European Union Allowances and Certified Emission Reduction offsets. On top of this, The Carbon Neutral Company is certifying UPS's offset processes. As a UPS representative told me, they're really going for credibility.

Some example of projects that they say they could support: Wastewater treatment, methane destruction and landfill gas destruction. But this will vary depending what is available on the market.

UPS Matching Up to $1 Million in Offsets
To encourage its customers to participate, UPS also announced that it will match the offset purchases during 2009-2010 up to $1 million.

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