The Future of Post: Transforming beyond GHG

Insights into Finch & Beak’s postal benchmark study: sustainability in Mail & Express
The Future of Post: Transforming beyond GHG
Publ. date 3 Mar 2021
The postal industry is experiencing a transformational shift, caused by rapid globalization, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the immense growth of e-commerce. Postal companies provide an indispensable service to society each day. However, with home parcel delivery growing by 16.5% in 2020, their impact on society and the environment also increased significantly. Moreover, the UN estimated that more than 70% of the world’s population will live in densely populated areas by 2050. Increasing demand for freight transport will require effectively managing these impacts, to turn them from risks into opportunities.

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Especially the coronavirus pandemic revealed the flaws in the current business as usual practices. As a consequence, voices of society and investors become louder, demanding to move towards sustainable business practices by integrating environmental, social and economic (ESG) activities. Therefore, the desired move towards quantification and valuing the impact on society becomes much stronger.

Transformational shift

Given the urge to change the postal companies’ business as usual and linear (take-make-waste) approach, Finch & Beak conducted a benchmark assessment on the sustainability performance of 19 postal companies on 10 categories. The companies assessed are members of the International Post Corporation (IPC) and make up its Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS). The study assessed the status quo of operational vulnerability, resulting from their sustainability performance and the companies’ market alignment, which measures how well the companies cope with market developments.

Average sector operational vulnerability is 67%

The quantitative analysis of the 19 postal companies shows that on the one hand, companies are least vulnerable on the topics of supply chain management, health & safety and GHG-emissions, showing that the majority of postal companies follow a traditional reporting line. Moreover, even though more than two-third of companies report on absenteeism and accidents for example, the overall operational vulnerability of the criteria is still above 50%.

Additionally, 37% of the analyzed companies are stock market listed, and on average they outperform the companies not being stock market listed by publicly disclosing more data. This could be explained by the fact that those companies are urged by their investors to put more attention on ESG issues.

On the other hand, merely nine companies report on waste management rates and air emissions (NOx, SOx, PM10), which makes them the most vulnerable topics. Limited reporting on the circular economy, employee engagement and critical incident risk management also leads to an operational vulnerability of 70% and above. This concludes that postal companies still lack data disclosure, resulting in vulnerability towards alterations within the market.

Postal companies are 62% market aligned

Deep diving into the 19 postal companies’ qualitative sustainability agendas, target setting and initiatives, showed that the companies especially perform low on the topics GHG-emissions (55%), Circular Economy (56%) or Energy Management (59%). The reason for that is a strong variation of the program quality and a wider gap between best and low performers. Moreover, low performing companies lack (detailed) information on their programs and miss innovative actions compared to their peers. While several companies name Circular Economy or Waste Management there is no pro-active approach and no management actions around that topic.

It is worth noting that 90% of the assessed companies conducted a materiality assessment. However, most companies do not translate those materialities into value creation, thus revealing an opportunity for future assessments.

Consequently, the market alignment analysis further undermined that postal companies still depict a traditional approach to ESG reporting, performing strongly on established indicators such as OHS, yet failing to include modern-day developments like including contractors into their scope. Consequently, they miss the opportunity to be a people-centered business. A similar aversion can be witnessed to innovation on sustainability trends such as the circular economy and impact valuation.

Looking forward: Key take-away

The benchmark study shows that frontrunners are mainly stock listed companies and have aligned with the Science Based Target Initiative. The 19 assessed postal companies mainly lack transparency and public disclosure, especially on waste management, air emissions and circular economy. While several companies mentioned circular economy or impact valuation, they do not actively engage in it. Consequently, innovative actions are missing, leading to the conclusion that the majority of companies still follows traditional reporting. In order to mitigate the increased impact of their operations on society and the environment, postal companies need to understand where they are producing these externalities and translate them into a commonly understood language: numbers.

Are you ready to accelerate your impact measurement and valuation?

If you are looking for innovative ways to identify, measure, monetize and manage benefits and externalities (costs) of your company to society and environment, get in touch with Jonathan Soto Moreno, Consultant at jonathan@fichandbeak.com and leverage business opportunities from Impact Acceleration Measurement relevant to you.

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

About Josephin Schulz

Ambitious professional aiming to make sustainability understandable and accessible for everyone. | josephin@finchandbeak.com

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