IPC’s EMMS group has set a carbon efficiency target of 20% emissions reduction per letter mail and per parcel by 2025, from a 2013 baseline. IPC is listed on the Science Based Targets website for having successfully developed science based targets.

The group achieved its initial Scope 1 and 2 emissions 2020 reduction target of 20% in 2014. Following this, a new group target was introduced in the same year: to achieve a 20% reduction in Scope 1, 2, and 3 (where Scope 3 includes outsourced transport only) emissions per letter mail and per parcel by 2025, from a 2013 baseline. As parcels are larger and heavier than letter mail their processing and delivery are different. As a result, the delivery efficiency target was split into two measurements – letter mail item delivery efficiency and parcel delivery efficiency. Since the target was set, the group has considerably improved delivery efficiency per parcel, reporting 485.6 grams of CO2 per item in 2018 compared to 565.3 grams per item in 2013 – a reduction of 14%. This figure has remained broadly stable since 2015. On an absolute basis, this represents a 36% increase in annual emissions associated with parcel deliveries in just four years, compared with a 58% increase in number of items delivered over the period.

Since 2013, the group’s letter mail delivery efficiency has remained stable, at 36.2 grams of CO2 per item in 2018, compared to 36.3 grams in 2013 (a decrease of 0.2%). Underlying that trend is a 13.4% decline in letter mail volumes in that period, that is commensurate with the reduction in absolute letter mail emissions in that period (13.6%). We anticipate these volume trends will continue which will inevitably pose challenges as we get closer to 2025. In 2019 we restated the delivery efficiency figures for 2013 to 2017 due to coverage changes. Please see the Restatements Annex for more details.

Letter mail delivery efficiency remains stable due to the simultaneous decline in letter mail volumes and emissions associated with letter mail delivery of almost 1.3m tonnes, since 2013. We expect this trend to endure as emissions reductions continue along with falling item numbers. Figure 2 illustrates the difficulties faced in improving delivery efficiency, given the close correlation between the two trends.


Delivery Efficiency: Letter Mail

As shown in Figure 8, letter mail delivery efficiency has remained stable since the 2013 baseline, with the group reporting 36.2 grams of CO2 per item in 2018 compared to 36.3 grams per item in 2013. This is despite the ongoing challenge of declining letter mail volumes, which have fallen 13.4% over the period. We congratulate the group’s collective efforts to reduce associated emissions by 13.6% in that time, equating to a decrease in emissions per item of 0.2%. Although letter mail volumes are declining, the Universal Postal Obligation dictates that postal carriers must maintain a minimum service to all areas of their country of operation. As a result, posts face limitations to the degree to which operational efficiencies can been achieved. Therefore a 13.6% decrease in associated carbon emissions is all the more notable.

We are confident that as the focus on sustainability throughout the postal sector’s supply chain increases, further reductions in Scope 3 emissions per letter mail will be made possible, particularly given the renewed global focus on climate change in 2019, ongoing technological developments, and ensuing cost reductions that will drive improvements in the coming years. Specifically, we expect to see an increase in the use of alternative fuel vehicles in the next five to ten years which will significantly improve delivery efficiency.


Delivery Efficiency: Parcel

The group’s parcel delivery efficiency has improved considerably since 2013. Participants reported collective emissions per item in 2018 of 485.6 grams CO2, compared with 565.3 grams CO2 in the baseline year - a decrease of 14.1%. In that time, parcel numbers have increased by an enormous 58.4%, from 7.4bn parcels to 11.8bn parcels in 2018, as the boom in e-commerce drives increasing demand for deliveries. Associated emissions have increased by a comparatively low 36.1% over the period, demonstrating the group’s improvements in efficiency within both its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) and within that of its suppliers (Scope 3).