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UPS carbon neutral Fact Sheet

What is a carbon offset and how does that relate to UPS carbon neutral?

A carbon offset is a certified financial instrument aimed at a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon offset is used when another organization’s project yields less carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases than would otherwise occur.

UPS purchases carbon credits to give customers a way to"offset" the emissions produced by the transportation of their shipments.

Why is UPS offering carbon neutral?

Just as UPS is working hard to reduce its climate impact of transportation, we know our customers want to do the same. UPS carbon neutral is an easy way for shippers to fund certified projects that have a positive impact on the planet.

UPS carbon neutral also complements the emissions reduction activities that UPS already has in place. You can read more about those activities in our sustainability report.

What are the business benefits of shipping UPS carbon neutral?

Consumers are increasingly looking for companies that are enlightened about their environmental impact and are doing something positive about it. Using UPS carbon neutral lets you demonstrate your environmental commitment, and enable you and your package recipients to share in that commitment.

Is the UPS carbon neutral process third-party verified?

UPS carbon neutral is verified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), an inspection, testing and verification company. This means that you can have confidence in the UPS carbon neutral method. Additionally, our carbon offset process is certified by The CarbonNeutral Company.

How does UPS verify the quality of the offsets it purchases and what kinds of projects do they fund?

We target the purchase of Gold Standard, Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) certified offsets, in addition to European Union Allowances and Certified Emission Reduction offsets. They support multiple environmentally responsible projects. Representative examples of the projects we could support include wastewater treatment, reforestation, methane destruction and landfill gas destruction.

Has the carbon calculator methodology been verified?

UPS has developed a proprietary process aligned with our U.S. service offering which calculates the emissions generated by our operations.  Outside the U.S., the methodology we use is based on weight and distance, and greenhouse gas protocol emissions factors.  These methodologies – verified by SGS and certified by The CarbonNeutral Company- include UPS small package, ground freight, Air and Ocean forwarding. It includes the following emissions sources:

  • 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

These methods allow us to offer UPS carbon neutral. We calculate the carbon impact of all shipments sent using UPS carbon neutral, based on our own UPS-specific methodology verified by SGS.

How is UPS’s carbon neutral methodology different from those used by third parties that claim to neutralize UPS shipments?

Our calculations are based on detailed knowledge of the UPS network and operations—knowledge that only UPS can provide. UPS’s calculation method is accurate because it:

  • Starts with an accurate company emissions inventory
  • Includes scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions, in a manner verified by SGS
  • Considers each mode of transport
  • Reconciles the actual carbon emitted and offset with the previous year’s shipping.

What is offset"retirement?" Does UPS “retire" the offsets it purchases?

UPS retires offsets directly related to the reduction of carbon for your shipments. Retiring an offset means removing it from the offset marketplace so it cannot be sold again. UPS retires its offsets because we believe doing so is the truest way to represent the actual environmental benefits each purchased offset provides.

When does UPS purchase and retire offsets?

UPS purchases offsets as required and will retire them in accordance with industry standards. Each year, we reconcile the actual carbon emitted and offset with the previous year’s shipping. This gives us our company-wide emissions inventory to apply to the carbon neutral packages at that point. It also provides the most accurate data to use for offsetting.

Why does UPS charge a flat rate per package for UPS carbon neutral? Doesn't every package have a different carbon impact?

The actual carbon emitted during the shipping process depends on multiple factors: the origin and destination of the shipment, and the mode of transport for how the shipment reached its destination. To simplify the process for our customers, we are offering a flat rate. The fees were determined using historic package data. The fee includes the cost of calculation, administrative costs associated with the service and the cost of the offsets. Any funding left over from the carbon neutral charge goes directly into green projects.

For customers who want to take a comprehensive approach and offset all of their shipments, UPS carbon neutral is available on a contract basis.  Pricing varies based on the customer’s shipping characteristics.

I just received a UPS carbon neutral shipment. What does that mean?

It means the shipper has directed UPS to offset the carbon footprint of that shipment. UPS carbon neutral funds projects that help to offset the emissions of the package’s transport.

Can I just ship one UPS carbon neutral package at a time?

Yes. We offer UPS carbon neutral through our shipping systems, UPS Internet Shipping, UPS CampusShip, Host and Vendor Solutions, UPS Developer Kit, iShip and ConnectShip.

Can I ship all of my packages with UPS carbon neutral?

Absolutely. It’s a terrific way to show your customers and recipients that you are sensitive to the climate impact of your shipping. For large companies, we offer a contract service that begins with calculating your carbon impact from transportation. Your UPS Account Executive can help you get started.

Why is the focus on carbon?

The term carbon actually refers to carbon dioxide, or CO2, one of the six main constituents of greenhouse gases that is believed to be the principal cause of global climate change. The reason many focus on carbon dioxide is because it is produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. Because millions of people directly or indirectly participate in activities that burn fossil fuels, like driving cars or using electricity, many see the reduction of carbon emissions as the most direct way we can slow the production of greenhouse gases.

How does choosing UPS carbon neutral help?

Purchasing offsets supports environmental projects that help mitigate the impact of your shipping. You are also sending a strong message to your recipient that you are doing your share to reduce your climate impact.

UPS carbon neutral also is a way to extend the ongoing efforts UPS has already made to reduce fuel use, conserve energy, recycle and operate responsibly.

What do the different"scope" levels of emissions signify?

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides the following definitions to differentiate between direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources:

  • Direct GHG emissions are emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting entity
  • Indirect GHG emissions are emissions that are a consequence of the activities of the reporting entity, but occur at sources owned or controlled by another entity

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol further categorizes these direct and indirect emissions into three broad scopes:

  • Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions
  • Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam
  • Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity, electricity-related activities not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.

Where can I learn more?

Visit the Sustainability section of the UPS Corporate Responsibility Web site to find out more about UPS’s total carbon emissions, our reduction plans and our overall sustainability goals.

For more information, contact:


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