International postal group saves $400m by being green

Efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the postal industry are also saving hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs, according to the International Postal Corporation. The association of 24 national postal services in countries across the world issued its latest sustainability report today, at the UN climate talks in Durban.

The report calculated that in the last two years IPC members have saved $412.85m USD thanks to measures to cut their carbon footprints.

The calculation was based on the energy costs and carbon offset costs avoided as postal services reduced building energy consumption and vehicle fuel consumption, taking out 329,000 tonnes of climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions in the process during 2010, a 4.2% cut in emissions, after a 597,000-tonne reduction in 2009.

Individual projects among the postal services taking part have included designing more energy-efficient buildings and those using sustainable materials, replacing lighting systems with efficient alternatives, testing electric vehicles and biofuels, offering mail discounts for “green” customers, and teaching drivers to save fuel by driving in the most efficient ways.

Herbert-Michael Zapf, the chief executive at IPC, said the achievements meant the global postal group was already halfway to its goal of lowering emissions by 20% by 2020.

“Achieving such results is a reflection of the seriousness with which our industry takes climate change,” he said. “We realise that we must not only continue to innovate in terms of products and services, but also by embracing sustainability as part of our core business.”

The 22 members within the IPC’s Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS) include the likes of USPS, Deutsche Post, Royal Mail, PostNL, La Poste, Canada Post, Swiss Post, Australia Post and Poste Italiane.

South Africa

One of the most recent additions to the group has been the South African Post Office, which is currently working to lower its emissions by 2.5 percentage points each year from a 2008-09 baseline.

SAPO said that since implementing its Group environmental policy in 2008, it has been investing in technology to reduce its environmental impact, from the testing of electric delivery scooters to the replacing of lighting systems with energy-efficient alternatives.

It said joining the EMMS programme had allowed it to share best practices with its peers around the world.

“The South African Post Office stands out as both the first postal operator in Africa to join the full (IPC) programme, and as South Africa’s first state-owned enterprise to participate in an international cross-sector sustainability programme,” said SAPO in a statement.


As it released its 2011 sustainability report, IPC also announced two initiatives with the Universal Postal Union to help improve and expand the collection and management of environmental data from the world’s postal services.

The first initiative will see the UPU offering IPC’s introductory emissions monitoring programme to its members via its 2011 sustainability questionnaire. Seven posts from Africa, Asia and the Middle East taking part in the pilot.

The second pilot project seeks to streamline the data collection process for those posts taking part in the UPU and IPC sustainability programmes, integrating elements of the EMMS within the UPU system.

UPU director general Edouard Dayan said: “Partnerships are indispensable, allowing us to create a pool of resources to fight climate change.

“We have been expanding our collaboration with PostEurop and the UN Environment Programme in this field, and today we are pleased about working with IPC in helping the postal industry take on this challenge and opportunity to rethink their processes and business models.”

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