UPS Seeks 20 Percent Emissions Cut, Passes 2016 Goal

United Parcel Service Inc., which reached a 2016 goal of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent three years early, has a new target: 20 percent by 2020.

The world’s largest package-delivery company plans to use more alternative-fuel vehicles and expand its ORION software in the U.S. as part of that effort, Chief Sustainability Officer Rhonda Clark said in a telephone interview.

“People compare it to GPS, but ORION goes so much further” in optimizing routes by combining map data and time-sensitive package information, Clark said. Previously “a typical UPS driver would deliver all of the air stops in the morning and sometimes have to backtrack to go back and deliver ground stops.”

A reduction of one mile for every driver a day saves the company as much as $50 million annually, in addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. UPS used the software on about 10,000 routes last year, and may deploy it on almost half of its 55,000 U.S. routes by the end of 2014.

For the second straight year, the company in 2013 delivered more packages while also reducing its emissions 1.5 percent from a year earlier.

UPS uses more than 96,000 delivery vehicles, including about 3,600 powered by alternative fuels. By the end of last year, the company had about 250 vehicles that use liquefied natural gas, and plans to add another 1,000 this year.

The company said previously it expected to save 40 percent on fuel costs by switching its long-haul fleet to natural gas.

(An earlier version of this story corrected how the company uses ORION software.)

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