Canada Post launched an ambitious environmental plan to help create a more sustainable operation over the coming decades.The joint Environmental Action Plan, created with the post and its bargaining agents, is one of the largest efforts the post has undertaken to address environmental concerns.
While the Post previously implemented projects with an environmental element, such as an electric vehicle pilot program ten years ago, the Environmental Action Plan launched in October goes even further. It features four key environmental targets and specific plans for how these targets can be achieved.
“This plan ... lays out for us, for the very first time, a more systematic approach to tackle the environment,” said Dilhari Fernando, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability for Canada Post. “We are seized by the urgency of the issue regarding greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation thereof; and adaptation to what could be a warming world, what scientists are saying will be an exceedingly warming world if we don't do something about it.”
The four areas on which the action plan will focus are: cutting carbon emissions, redirecting waste away from landfills, finding innovations in packaging, and incentivizing its employees to be actively involved in creating an environmentally conscious culture.
Canada Post plans to operate at net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with a 30% reduction by 2030. The path to those goals includes utilizing low-emission and electric vehicles, building new facilities to be net-zero carbon ready and retrofitting some of its 6,000 existing buildings to reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed for heat.
Its zero-waste plan by 2030 means that at least 90% of its waste will be diverted away from landfills. Today the Post diverts nearly 73% of its waste. This goal could be reached by initiatives such as the Post’s requirement for contractors to repurpose nonhazardous construction and demolition waste, returning packaging materials to vendors, or composting, Fernando explained. And by 2022, the Post plans to eliminate all unnecessary single-use plastics from events and meetings.
The efforts toward more sustainable delivery include carbon-offset programmes and printing clear recycling instructions on boxes so that customers know how to dispose of them after they have used them, she said. It also plans to phase out the use of plastic film from its e-commerce packaging.
Finally, the Post hopes to encourage its 68,000-person workforce to innovate environmental projects. One way the Post hopes to accomplish this is to create an action fund by which employee ideas voted as feasible would be funded, such as installing community gardens or bike racks.
It’s a set of ideas that Fernando said could have implications beyond Canada’s 10 million square kilometers (4 million square miles).
“We're really excited about not just doing this in Canada, but also sharing our best practices with the other posts and with the other organizations that are in this delivery space with us,” Fernando said. “We really feel that there are so many advantages of putting in place a greener approach to carry out our mandate.”
This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Union Postale.