The sustainability of Peak: Top tips for reducing your emissions this Christmas

It comes as no surprise that the Peak season is an all-consuming time of year for businesses - and I don't just mean Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The "peak" shopping period, which runs from October to January every year, is one of the busiest times of year for retailers and logistics providers alike.

The sustainability of Peak: Top tips for reducing your emissions this Christmas

UK shoppers spent nearly £79.71bn during the busy holiday shopping period in 2018. And, despite a difficult retail environment in 2019, this year’s “peak” period looks to be no different, save for an even higher volume of online purchases as a total proportion of retail spending.

As businesses prepare to meet the demands of e-commerce, they must be thinking about how to do so in a sustainable way – ensuring that e-commerce can be both profitable and sustainable.

As a company that started out small and grew into one of the world’s largest global logistics providers, UPS has a long history of developing and deploying solutions throughout the supply chain that can help businesses make their logistics operations more sustainable this holiday season.  

1) Rising deliveries vs. rising emissions

This peak season, UPS expects to deliver an average of 32 million packages and documents per day – a 60% increase over the 20 million delivered on an average, non-peak day. Rising parcel deliveries means more delivery vehicles on the road to meet demand. However, with new technologies and careful planning, this increased volume doesn’t need to result in increased emissions. By carefully planning the logistics supply chain, businesses can choose to work with logistics providers that have electric and hybrid vehicle fleets, cycle logistics options and other innovative solutions, thus reducing emissions.  At UPS, we continue to develop initiatives to make our businesses as sustainable as possible, and make those solutions accessible for businesses of all sizes.

2) Match your packaging to what you’re shipping

The empty spaces in and between packages can be like black holes of efficiency. Keeping your shipment packaging to the right size can play a more important role than most think. Not only does it ensure your parcel contents are packaged securely, but the increased efficiency also leaves more space in the package car for other parcels, reducing the overall number of vehicles on the road. Using packaging engineers can help determine the best configuration of both the primary (product packaging) and secondary (outside packaging) packaging.

3) Alternative delivery options  

With more and more delivery options at the checkout, consumers have come to expect and demand additional options. This can benefit businesses and the environment as well. Providing alternative delivery options such as UPS Access Point™, or UPS My Choice® to provide more flexibility can reduce the need for a driver to make a return visit if the customers are not home, in addition to reducing their number of stops on a round – addressing part of the challenge of urban logistics.

All in all, Peak is a busy time of year for all, but this doesn’t need to come at the expense of the environment. By using the technology and solutions available and making small changes to your operations and customer options, the impact can be significant to making Peak sustainable, but benefitting your business at the same time.

Mohamed Said-Hoefer, Operations Director, UPS UK, Ireland & Nordics

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