Update

FedEx to be carbon-neutral by 2040

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 03, 2021 3:45 PM CT | Published: March 03, 2021 9:40 AM CT

As a global delivery company, FedEx Corp. has a large footprint in the business world. But FedEx hopes to make its carbon footprint much smaller.


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The Memphis-based company announced plans Wednesday, March 3, to make its operations carbon neutral by 2040.

The company plans to increase the use of electrified delivery vehicles to 100% of its fleet by 2040. It also will invest in more fuel efficient airplanes and explore the use of biofuels for some of its aircraft.

Plus, FedEx will take smaller steps, like encouraging customers to use recycled or reusable packaging and making some short-distance deliveries using small electric robots rather than full-size delivery vehicles.

In all, FedEx said it will be investing more than $2 billion on its environmental sustainability initiative.

“We have a responsibility to take bold action in addressing climate challenges,” said Frederick W. Smith, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “This goal builds on our longstanding commitment to sustainability throughout our operations, while at the same time investing in long-term, transformational solutions for FedEx and our entire industry.”

That funding includes $100 million to help Yale University establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture to research new methods of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. One of the goals of the Yale initiative is to offset an amount of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to current airline emissions.

Yale is Smith’s alma mater.

During a media roundtable, officials from FedEx and Yale elaborated on their plans. Mitch Jackson, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said FedEx has managed to reduce its carbon emissions by about 40% since 2009, even as its package volume increased 99% over the same time period.

Jackson said 50% of FedEx’s new delivery vehicle purchases will be electric vehicles by 2025 and that will increase to 100% by 2030.

The company has about 200,000 vehicles and more than 650 aircraft. Jackson said one of the challenges with electric vehicles will be having access to an adequate number of charging stations to keep them running.

The company says it will be charging vehicles at its own facilities rather than relying on public charging stations. Over the last year, FedEx has installed charging stations at more than 40 locations in California.

“We are now working on the issue of infrastructure,” Jackson said.

In addition to modernizing its fleet of aircraft, the company plans to continue its Fuel Sense program.

Fuel Sense includes a number of different steps for saving fuel, such as reducing the weight of its aircraft and reducing flight tracks before takeoff. Fuel Sense and aircraft modernization programs have saved a combined 1.43 billion gallons of jet fuel and avoided more than 13.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 2012. 

FedEx officials said that in addition to helping the planet, some of the changes will benefit the company’s customers. For example, more fuel efficient airplanes have longer ranges that can translate into quicker delivery times.

Some of the changes may seem small, but can be impactful given the large scale of FedEx’s operations. The use of recycled or reusable packaging would fit into that category.

The company is also planning to have all new buildings it constructs in the United States obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

“We are looking at a variety of solutions,” said Brie Carere, the company’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Satish Jindel, a Pennsylvania-based shipping consultant, said in an interview that FedEx’s commitment to carbon neutrality is another example of the company taking a leading role on an important issue.

“Fred Smith is clearly a visionary person in the industry,” said Jindel, president and founder of SJ Consulting and ShipMatrix. “He sees the future before others.”

Jindel predicted FedEx’s moves would play well with customers, who are increasingly concerned about the environment.

Government regulators in Europe are calling for increased use of electric vehicles, so FedEx is following a trend line there, only on a global scale, Jindel said.

Amazon and the United States Postal Service are also increasing the use of electric vehicles.

“You’re going to see this continue,” Jindel said.

Scott Banbury, conservation program coordinator for the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club, said FedEx’s announcement holds great potential. Banbury said he’s hoping the company’s commitment will include substantial investment in rooftop solar panels.

“Imagine that: Solar panels on all of FedEx’s buildings and parking lots,” Banbury said. “That could be a huge contribution to solar energy in Memphis.”

 

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Topics

Business FedEx city of Memphis
Blake Fontenay

Blake Fontenay

Blake Fontenay’s 27-year journalism career has taken him to many newspapers in four states. However, he had never returned to work in any of the other cities where he had been before until the opportunity to report for the Daily Memphian presented itself. He covers business for the Daily Memphian.


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