…at UPS and the entire transport sector, driven by their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming, Frank Sportolari, President UPS Germany and Austria, outlined at the recent virtual meeting of the German Air Cargo Association ACD. In his presentation, the Chicago, Illinois-born executive put the focus on his company’s environmental initiatives to decarbonize the supply chain from end to end.
Changes are the only constant, Mr. Sportolari stated. Taking his enterprise as an example, which started out as the American Messenger Company in August 1907, founded by James Casey, and was renamed 12 years later to United Parcel Service. In the beginning, most deliveries were made on foot, with bikes being used for longer journeys. In 1913, the company acquired its first Model T Ford for delivery services, followed by hundreds of others. Today, UPS operates thousands of vans and trucks, complemented by 265 freighter aircraft for domestic U.S. deliveries and international services.
“We ought to roll up our sleeves and fight global warming!”
According to Mr. Sportolari, who is also President of The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany), the world is at a tipping point due to increasing global warming. Measured against this, the industry is way too slow in fighting climate change. Therefore, it is time to roll up the sleeves and ensure a U-turn. This applies equally to producers, consumers, and service providers such as parcel delivery companies.
Reducing carbon footprint is key
“Worldwide, we are experiencing rapid growth of cities,” the executive cited forecasts. By 2050, around 70% of all people will live in densely populated urban areas, exposed to air pollution and traffic congestions, with a growing number of them being cut off basic resources such as potable water or electricity. It is feared that by 2100, the global temperature will rise by 5% on average, with devastating consequences for life on Earth. It is therefore morally, ethically, politically, and not least, ecologically imperative to focus on sustainability. "We acknowledge the dangers posed by climate change. That is why our top priority is to significantly minimize our carbon footprint, for example in our fleet of vehicles,” he said.
Climate neutral transports
By 2025, 40% of fuels burned by the UPS fleet, which consists of 25,000 courier vehicles in Germany, will come from renewable sources, the manager announced. This is coupled with progressive route management that avoids superfluous trips. Furthermore, a fine-tuned City Logistics concept based on pick-up and delivery services provided by CO2 “neutral” bike couriers complements the environmental advances of the integrator. So do drones, provided by U.S. producer Matternet, and German firm Wingcopter, “with which we are now very successfully flying commercial missions in the States, covering a distance of 60 km, i.e. well beyond the visibility zone,” Mr. Sportolari said. In Germany, he also hopes to get green light from the regulator to deploy climate friendly UAVs soon.
E-commerce demands new transport solutions
Germany was, next to Canada, the first country outside the U.S. where the package delivery company’s global expansion began. That was in 1976. Today, UPS generates 22 billion euros p.a., making Germany the second biggest market after the USA. Centerpiece of the integrator’s activities is Cologne-Bonn Airport, UPS’s central European hub. Asked about frequency increases or new routes, Mr. Sportolari remained tightlipped, saying only that the e-commerce business is going through the roof and will continue to do so, as forecasts predict. “This year, we saw between 30% to 50% first-time buyers of goods ordered online. A trend that we think will continue, surely impacting our traffic planning and management.”
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