Carbon-neutral Envelope Shipping

What would happen if you planted more than 2 million tree seedlings and kept them growing for a whole decade?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, you could sequester all the carbon emissions generated by our transport of more than 200 million envelopes every year.

This isn’t a scenario FedEx is just imagining. Through a new program called FedEx carbon-neutral envelope shipping, we’re actually offsetting that much carbon.

The carbon offsets relate to the transport of each FedEx branded Envelope shipped via FedEx Express, no matter where it travels. The program helps improve the carbon footprint not only at FedEx, but also for our customers’ businesses. But unlike some competitive offerings, there's no additional charge under this program.

“Customers are asking how they can engage with FedEx to be more environmentally responsible,” says Mitch Jackson, Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at FedEx Corporation. “Every company that relies on express envelope shipping can be more responsible by shipping with FedEx Express, because we offer offsetting the carbon produced by transporting FedEx Envelopes on a global basis.”

“Every FedEx branded Envelope shipped from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world via FedEx Express will be rendered essentially carbon-neutral,” Jackson says.

Many people assume electronic communication has made the envelope-shipping business insignificant. But because many businesses – legal services, financial services, and others – depend on signed, original documents, we still carry more than 200 million envelopes a year.


How do carbon offsets work? We calculate the emissions it takes to transport an envelope to its destination, and we pay an offset provider to offset those emissions for each envelope we carry. We work with BP Target Neutral, a not-for-profit offset provider whose projects work to reduce, replace, and neutralize carbon. Currently, BP Target Neutral invests in six large carbon-offset projects, which FedEx will invest in to offset the carbon we use transporting envelopes.

One of those projects will reforest almost 27,000 acres of Tanzania’a Southern Highlands district — former grasslands that had become degraded with use. Different varieties of eucalyptus and pine will make up the new forest ecosystem, capturing and storing carbon naturally. Harvesting the eucalyptus and pine trees will occur every 13 and 21 years, respectively, with the resulting timber being used to make transmission poles, furniture, and pallets. The project helps local Tanzanian communities in a variety of ways. It will create jobs in which people can learn environmental conservation, protection of water sources, and enhancement of biodiversity through the protection and management of their local ecosystem. It will also promote entrepreneurship by empowering people to create small-scale woodlots with support and training from a local co-operative.

Other projects around the world include creating electricity from landfill gases in Thailand and the United States, a wind farm in Turkey, and a biogas project in the Netherlands that uses animal waste from livestock farms to generate renewable electricity and reduce methane emissions. The final project is a "run-of-river” hydroelectric power project in China that creates renewable energy by diverting some of a river’s flow through a pipe or tunnel leading to electricity-generating turbines. The water then returns back to the river downstream and continues its course.

FedEx carbon-neutral envelope shipping is just one part of the broader FedEx sustainability effort called EarthSmart. EarthSmart is the FedEx roadmap for connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully, and working with our team members, customers, other businesses, and communities. The aim is to improve the company’s environmental performance and find ways for FedEx to contribute to sustainability on a broader scale by working with others who share that vision.