Sending FedEx a Message

April 13, 2015 | 12:08 pm
Dave Cooke
Senior Vehicles Analyst

In our latest report, Engines for Change, we noted that FedEx could save nearly $600 million annually in fuel costs if its truck fleet met fuel economy standards in line with our 2025 target. Our supporters came out in droves to carry that message to FedEx—this blog tracks the progress of those letters of support to FedEx urging them to support strong fuel economy standards.

Your message is on its way…

We collected the letters from over 10,000 supporters in order to send them out together, as one voice. But it raised the question—how should we get them to FedEx?  Why, FedEx Ground, of course! While this will contribute to global warming, as with the transportation of any package, the payoff this small package could have is well worth it.

Here I am, dropping your letters off to FedEx to be shipped to...FedEx.  Your letters will help send FedEx the message to support strong fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

Here I am, dropping your letters off to FedEx to be shipped to…FedEx. Your letters will help send FedEx the message to support strong fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles. Track the progress of your letters.

Of course, sending FedEx ten thousand letters on paper would not only take up a good chunk of real estate in the back of a FedEx truck, but it would also not be a very carbon-friendly way to send a message—producing one sheet of paper contributes around 5 grams of global warming emissions, but sending ten thousand letters would add up to over 50 kg of global warming emissions. So we decided to compile them all at once and put them on a flash drive, which is a slightly better alternative. The drive can hold all your letters (and then some) at a significantly lower footprint—the production emissions from a flash drive come in at just around 1-2 kg—and it shouldn’t take up too much room in the truck. After all, it didn’t matter that much how we packaged your comments to FedEx—emissions from putting together the package are completely dwarfed by the trip itself, as described below.

But it’s going to take a bit of time and a whole lot of fuel to get there.

Your letters are going to travel from the FedEx location nearest our DC office to its final destination in Memphis, TN, a trip of about 1,100 miles (depending on the precise route). Its first stop will be the nearest FedEx Ground distribution center, where it will be transferred from a delivery vehicle to one of the large tractor-trailers that travel across the country. After that, it will probably find its way to Charlotte and maybe even just outside Atlanta before it lands at the FedEx sorting facility slightly outside Memphis. There it’ll finally be transferred again on one of those distinctive white FedEx trucks and delivered straight to FedEx headquarters.

Track the progress of your package here.

The trucks used to make this trip will use about 180 gallons of fuel and result in about 2,400 kg (2.4 metric tons) of global warming emissions, just to transport our package and others like it. This trip alone will cost FedEx about $500 for fuel. Now imagine the literally millions of other trips like this at the core of FedEx’s business and you can see why they’re interested in saving fuel.

Compared to the savings possible through fuel economy standards, however, this one trip is a drop in the bucket. Just from the goods we ship today, new trucks could save over 570,000 barrels of oil per day if we switched to more efficient trucks. FedEx alone could reduce their carbon footprint by 2.2 million metric tons. This is why we are asking them to support strong fuel economy standards.

FedEx has a history of supporting federal fuel economy improvements.

Spending almost $5 billion in fuel a year, FedEx clearly has a stake in fuel efficiency. In 2006, the President and CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith, along with retired military leaders and a few other business executives together as the Energy Security Leadership Council called to “set and then annually increase fuel efficiency standards for medium-…[and] heavy-duty vehicles, employing federal subsidies as suitable.” In 2010, as part of the Heavy Duty Leadership Group, FedEx helped set forth a number of principles that laid a critical foundation for the first phase of heavy-duty truck standards, principles which have been reinforced again in light of the upcoming regulations.

Now that we nearing the proposal of a new round of heavy-duty vehicle standards, it is more important than ever for FedEx to stand up and remind the country of the benefits of strong fuel economy standards. Ensuring that we get the most efficient vehicles out on the road over the next decade isn’t just important to FedEx’s bottom-line, but that of the whole country. When your package arrives in Memphis, hopefully your voices will move FedEx to action.

Track the package of 10,000+ letters from UCS supporters (FedEx # 773351449841).

Didn’t get a chance yet to send your thoughts to FedEx? Let the companies featured in our Engines for Change report know you want them to support strong fuel economy standards.