The International Post Corporation’s (IPC) sustainability report has found that the 20 postal operators from five continents in its sustainability program achieved further improvements in all components of the program during 2017.
The IPC Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS) remains one of the few service sector-wide initiatives responding to the risks posed by climate change.
In 2008, EMMS participants set themselves two targets to reach collectively by 2020 – to achieve a score of at least 90% in carbon management proficiency, and to reduce combined carbon emissions from own operations by 20%.
After achieving the emissions target in 2014, a new intensity reduction target was set. This was to reduce total carbon emissions per letter mail and per parcel by 20% by 2025. The target focuses on delivery efficiency, and has also broadened the scope of the EMMS program to include outsourced transport.
EMMS participants achieved an overall carbon management proficiency score of 88% in 2017, up 32 percentage points from 2008 and less than two percentage points shy of the 2020 target. This improvement equates to an annual average increase of 3.6 percentage points.
Holger Winklbauer, CEO of IPC, said, “The participating posts have maintained momentum in their successes despite the challenging industry trends. Alongside the impressive collective achievements of the group, many posts stand out at the individual level. A total of 10 posts have now surpassed the 90% target, up from seven in 2016, while a further six achieved overall scores of at least 80%.”
The improved carbon management also results in a continuous decrease of the group’s scope 1 and 2 emissions. These have gone down by 29.7% since 2008, from 8.83 million tons to 6.21 million tons. This equates to a total saving of more than 15.3 million tons of carbon emissions over the period.
While mail volumes decline and delivery points increase, fewer letter mail items are being delivered to households and businesses alike. While posts face many challenges in improving their emissions intensity, letter mail delivery efficiency improved to 35.3 grams of CO₂ per item in 2017, down 4.3% on 2013.
Despite parcels having a much higher carbon footprint than letter mail, parcel delivery efficiency has improved significantly, with the group reporting 423.9 grams of CO₂ per item in 2017, down 16.1% on 2013 results.
“The EMMS program also continues to show leadership in an ever-evolving global corporate sustainability landscape,” commented Winklbauer.
“In 2019, our program will be expanded beyond carbon management to encompass broader sustainability goals. Following extensive engagement with both internal and external stakeholders, the following UN SDGs have been identified as those on which the postal sector can have the most positive impact: Climate action (Goal 13); Sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11); Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12); Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8); and Industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9).
“The alignment of the sustainability program with the UN SDGs not only responds to the expectations of our external stakeholders, but demonstrates the continuous evolution of our program and the desire of our participants to have a positive influence on the most pressing global sustainability challenges.”
Fuel consumption and electricity use are the most significant contributors to the postal sector’s carbon emissions. A focus on reducing emissions associated with these activities not only has considerable environmental benefits but also presents opportunities for financial gain.
Since 2008, the group has achieved an accumulated saving of 1.3 million tons of carbon emissions from own transport. The 458 million liters of fuel saved represent a financial saving of €466m (US$525m).