Choosing the Right Path
October’s Energy Action Month was a time for us to celebrate advances in energy conservation and resilience.
As recognized leaders in environmental sustainability, my team and I are proud this year to highlight a critical part of the Postal Service’s 10-year Delivering for America strategic plan that already has made a meaningful, permanent, and positive impact on our environmental footprint: route optimization.
USPS is everywhere. We serve every household, every business, and every community, many as often as seven days a week. We fulfilled this universal service obligation for many years using a network system that ran mail and packages as separate transportation operations. This often required us to operate long-haul trucks that were less than full to meet delivery schedules, and at times we would be forced to run multiple trips on the same route.
Clearly this was not sustainable. Aligning with our Delivering for America plan, our Surface Logistics Transportation Team was given the freedom to take a fresh approach — one that helps us choose the right path.
The dedication, resourcefulness, and talent I witnessed in the creation of this new plan was inspirational!
With a focus on optimizing routes and reducing carbon emissions, the team studied existing contract routes and found opportunities to consolidate volume to ensure trucks leave our facilities full. As a result, we are cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) and other harmful emissions, eliminating redundancies, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels — all while creating a more efficient and reliable network that costs less to operate.
The benefits of route optimization are indisputable.
When we began to roll out the Surface Logistics Transportation Team’s new program fiscal year 2021, USPS removed more than 20.9 million truck miles from America’s highways and reduced our diesel fuel consumption by 2.6 million gallons. Crucially, we avoided the equivalent of more than 58.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
But that was just the beginning!
In two years, we have avoided more than 124 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and saved more than $123 million.
We continue to identify more routes for optimization and are coordinating with our carriers so they can deliver more packages, collect more returns, and help us develop solutions to drive commerce and connect our communities. And, as our ground transportation becomes more efficient, we can further reduce our reliance on air transportation, which emits far more GHG emissions than over-the-road transportation.
Route optimization is just part of our continued efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. One of our highway contract route suppliers recently added propane autogas trucks to their fleet. These vehicles are proven to reduce greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide emissions. We are exploring propane to ensure we continue down a cleaner delivery path.
I discussed these efforts, as well as our top priorities for reducing our carbon footprint within our communities, in a recent episode of the Mailin’ It podcast. You can also follow us on our sustainability journey any time by visiting usps.com/green, where you will discover how the Postal Service is Delivering for America to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient mail and package shipping services at affordable rates, all with a focus on improving the environment of every community we serve.
Chief Sustainability Officer