Post&Parcel features Mail & Express Review’s round-up of the leading green initiatives throughout the sector during the last quarter.
Landmark target set by postal industry
The postal industry has become the first services sector to set a global emissions target for its industry.
The International Post Corporation (IPC), which represents the world’s leading post operators, announced that 20 member postal operators will work together to collectively reduce their carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, based on 2008 levels.
The commitment to an industry-wide carbon reduction target was announced at a panel discussion on the postal industry and climate change, moderated by Nadine Dereza.
During the discussion Jean-Paul Bailly, chairman of the International Post Corporation and CEO of Groupe La Poste, presented the ‘IPC Postal Sector Sustainability Report on the Environment’, the industry’s first ever combined sustainability report.
Twenty post operators which collectively represent 80% of global mail volumes participated in this first round of reporting, using the IPC Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System, developed specifically for the industry.
IPC members manage over 100,000 facilities and 600,000 transport vehicles. The 20 post operators that contributed to the Sustainability Report collectively currently emit 8.36m tonnes of CO2. The target set will reduce that total to 6.688m tonnes by 2020.
“This is a momentous occasion, not just for us in the postal industry, but for business as a whole”, said Jean-Paul Bailly. “As the first services sector to unite on a global scale to tackle its industry’s global carbon footprint, we’re demonstrating what can be done when organisations work together. Curbing CO2 emissions is something that concerns the entire industry, and it makes sense to take a sector approach to reaching a solution”, he concluded.
Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), applauded the announcement. “I welcome this global commitment by an entire service sector as an example of the vision and leadership required at all levels to effectively combat climate change, and I encourage the postal sector to continue to set an example”.
The 20 post operators who took part in the EMMS report and have together set the joint emissions reduction target are: An Post, Ireland; Australia Post; Canada Post; Correios de Portugal; Correos y Telegrafos, Spain; Deutsche Post, Germany; Groupe La Poste, France; Hellenic Post, Greece; Itella Post, Finland; La Poste/De Post, Belgium; Magyar Posta, Hungary; New Zealand Post; Norway Post; Posten Norden AB, Denmark and Sweden; Postes et Telecommunications Luxembourg; Royal Mail, United Kingdom; Swiss Post; TNT, The Netherlands; and the USPS.
Posts produce 26m tonnes of CO2 emissions annually
According to its first worldwide survey, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) estimates that Posts in its 191 member countries generated at least 26m tonnes of CO2 in 2008 through the operation of postal vehicles and buildings.
These Posts, employing more than 5m people, operate a global network of more than 600,000 post offices and almost one million postal vehicles. They represent the planet’s largest physical distribution network. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates total annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions at 38bn tonnes, meaning that postal operations produce 0.07% of these emissions.
Posts in industrialised countries emitted around 11m tonnes of CO2, or 41% of the total, while those in the developing and least developed countries released 15m tonnes, or 59% of the total.
On the flip side, many Posts have environmentally friendly practices, with thousands of letter carriers delivering mail on foot or using bicycles. In France, for example, it is estimated that La Poste’s 100,000 letter carriers cover the equivalent of 50 trips around the world every day. And Japan Post uses 10,000 bicycles, France’s La Poste 28,000 and the Belgian Post 4,200. Posts are also increasingly investing in alternative vehicles.
“This first global inventory is a major step forward in our efforts to combat climate change,” said UPU director general Edouard Dayan, “The UPU will work with all its partners, including the United Nations Environment Programme, to encourage the polluters of today and tomorrow to reduce their environmental impact in the long term. Sound management of environmental issues can drive growth. In taking up the challenge of green growth, businesses can rethink their logistics chain processes, improve their efficiency, plan long-term energy saving measures, develop new products and services less harmful to the environment and project a responsible business image,” added Dayan.
The survey results are based on Posts’ replies to a UPU questionnaire sent to all member countries, together with data from PostEurop, a European postal organisation, which also gathers data on the carbon footprint of its members.
A total of 99 Posts completed the questionnaire, representing a response rate of 52%. For the others, the UPU drew up estimates based on key variables such as the country’s postal traffic, number of post offices, number of postal staff, surface area of the country, population, level of development, and national greenhouse gas emissions provided by the World Bank.
The questionnaire was restricted to emissions produced by postal installations and vehicles. The UPU will continue to refine its survey in 2010, by including data on indirect emissions, such as those generated by private operators and subcontractors, air transport, waste management, or the manufacture of envelopes and parcels. The UPU distributed a guide to all its member countries to help them gather data and make the necessary calculations to draw up the inventory.
Public vote on climate protection project for Swiss Post
For the past year, customers of Swiss Post have had the opportunity to send their letters, parcels and goods consignments with the «pro clima» surcharge, thereby offsetting the associated CO2 emissions.
These surcharges have been collected and are to be invested in a climate protection project. The onus is now on the customers of Swiss Post. Customers can vote online to determine, in which Gold Standard climate project they think Swiss Post should invest the «pro clima» surcharges collected in 2009.
The following projects up for the vote are: Electricity from harvest waste in India; biogas from waste disposal in Turkey; and wind power in China.
Bike petition launched in UK
A petition has been launched on the UK prime minister’s website urging the government to prevent Royal Mail replacing delivery bicycles with vans.
The petition reads: “The sight of a postman pedalling down the street will become much rarer under plans by the Royal Mail to phase out thousands of bicycles and replace them with vans.
“Environmental groups have queried why the Royal Mail would replace a sustainable form of transport with one that causes congestion and is dependent on fossil fuels. Bicycles have been used to deliver post since 1880 and the Royal Mail has more than 16,000, made by the British company Pashley.
“Until recently, bicycles are used on a quarter of the country’s 65,000 delivery routes. The bicycle is ideally suited to the job of delivering mail. You can park them anywhere and they don’t cause any congestion. Even during this winter’s severe snow, the post continued to be delivered by bike.”
Australia Post promotes mobile phone recycling service
Australia Post is urging Australians to dig up their old mobile phones and take advantage of MobileMuster, a free mobile phone recycling service offered through its outlets.
“Across Australia there are approximately 16m old mobile phones sitting in people’s cupboards and drawers,” said Australia Post spokesperson Ruth Snelleman. “If you collected all of these old phones and laid them out end-to-end, they would stretch from Brisbane to Adelaide.”
Only 9% of mobile phone users in Australia recycled their previous mobile phone, with the majority of people keeping them at home.
The good news is that over 90% of the materials in mobile phones can be recovered and used as raw materials for new products.
This article is featured in the March 2010 issue of the Mail & Express Review. If you do not receive the industry-leading magazine and don’t want to miss out, subscribe by clicking here.
Source: Mail & Express Review