Effluents and Waste Loading...
UPS is currently collecting and disclosing data for solid, hazardous, and non-hazardous waste for operations in the United States, based on information provided by our waste disposal vendors. We continue to improve our internal processes for collecting and disclosing these wastes in our International segment.
Because UPS is not involved in manufacturing, our management and mitigation of effluents and waste is limited primarily to solid waste disposal and recycling from supplier packaging, pallets, scrap metal, office paper, plastics and mixed recycling, and facility-generated waste from aircraft maintenance, vehicle maintenance, and facility operations. The complete breakdown of waste by type in the United States is shown in the table on the following page.
Solid Waste Management
Despite package volume growth in the U.S. Domestic Package segment and in the United States operations of our Supply Chain & Freight segment, facilities in the United States, cut their solid waste disposal by 6.5 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. We also continued our initiative to improve our recycling programs at over 1,200 facilities in the United States helping to increase the tonnage of solid waste recycled by 37.5 percent compared to 2011. This in turn saved UPS more than US$1.7 million in disposal costs, which benefits all our sustainability stakeholders. Note that the percent differences described above are based on lower figures for solid waste disposal and recycling tonnage than we previously reported for 2011. The revised basis of comparison resulted from improved data reporting by a major national vendor, on a retrospective basis.
EPA developed a Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to translate waste prevention and recycling data into equivalent greenhouse gas reductions. Using WARM, EPA calculated that UPS’s recycling efforts yielded a reduction of 164,223 metric tonnes of CO2e in 2012. This amount is equivalent to removing 30,077 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.
Hazardous and Non-hazardous Waste Management
The hazardous and non-hazardous wastes we manage come from aircraft, vehicle, and facility operations. These wastes typically include spent antifreeze, used oil, spent solvents, spill residues, paint wastes, used filters, batteries, e-waste, and leaking packages. We recycle or dispose of non-hazardous waste locally through numerous vendors in the United States that we determine are capable of handling them.
In 2012, UPS operating facilities in the United States generated 1,475 tons of hazardous waste. To ensure hazardous wastes are properly disposed of, we manage these wastes through approved national vendors that have a documented track record of compliance with recognized industry disposal practices. These vendors are generally well established, observe industry standard safety procedures, and are regularly audited by UPS and/ or an outside auditor to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Our contracts with national and local vendors specify that we receive a “cradle to grave” certification letter that specifies responsible waste and disposal methods.
Zero Waste Initiative
The “Vision 2050” of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development describes a pathway toward a more sustainable future. One of the pathway’s ambitious elements aims at “not a particle of waste,” with landfills phased out within the next two decades. In 2011, we began incorporating this element to our environmental sustainability program.
We first identified two facilities that were good candidates for diverting at least 90 percent of their waste from landfill or incineration. (This is the generally recognized threshold for so-called “zero waste to landfill” goals or programs.) We used these first two facilities as test beds in 2012, to collect baseline data and establish a waste transition process. Both facilities achieved the target waste diversion rate of 90 percent. We now plan to move this forward in other facilities.
1 We are in the process of collecting more refined data to disclose local vendors’ solid waste recycling tonnage in future reports
2 Approved national vendor – approval process consists of vendor site visits, audits, and other internal controls
3 Rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries excluding automotive batteries