The environmental impact of shipping packages just got a little greener! UPS has just announced the launch of a new carbon neutral program, offering shippers within the U.S. the option of paying a small fee to offset the carbon footprint of shipping their packages.

"We believe these steps are important not just for UPS, but also for our customers," noted Bob Stoffel, UPS senior vice president. "Our global economy depends upon reliable transportation, so we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment."

The per-package flat rate price for the optional service will be $0.05 for UPS Ground services and $0.20 for UPS Next Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air and UPS 3 Day Select services. And to encourage customers to participate in the program, UPS has committed to match the offset purchases, up to $1 million, which would double the offsets purchased in 2009-2010.

A carbon offset is a financial instrument aimed at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In this instance, every package sent through UPS involves an environmental cost measured in carbon emissions, depending on the distance shipped and shipping method (truck, airplane, ship, etc.). Those carbon emissions could be offset, however, through an equivalent investment in carbon capture projects, such as the development of renewable energy or forestry programs.

In order to calculate the carbon cost of shipments, UPS numbers will be verified by the Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), an inspection, verification, testing and certification company, which is based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international standard for carbon accounting and reporting.

In addition to offering carbon offsets to its small volume customers, UPS has also announced another carbon analysis service for its high-volume customers. For a fee, UPS will offer to calculate the carbon impact of a customer's overall UPS shipping activity. The calculations then can be used by the shipper to purchase offsets directly or through UPS.

More detailed information about the program can be found at