UPS and FedEx are greener all the time.
The biggest motivation is cost savings, though. The delivery giants are finding that green machines, while pricey to buy, are cheaper to maintain and operate. Hybrid electric vehicles, for example, can cut fuel costs by half, while lowering emissions by 90%. Of course, such big cuts in pollution also make great PR for a historically dirty industry. Still, "the driving motivation here is the bottom line," says Donald Broughton, a transportation analyst at A.G. Edwards (AGE ) & Sons Inc. "[These CEOs] haven't suddenly joined Greenpeace."
Where FedEx and UPS lead, the rest of the nation's 5-million strong delivery fleet will follow. Over the coming decade, the price of hybrid trucks will likely fall as a result of FedEx' 30,000-unit order for hybrid electric vans. If so, others are ready to make a commitment. The U.S. Postal Service plans to mix hybrids into its fleet of 142,300 trucks once the price is right. "These technologies provide a huge potential for the transportation sector as a whole," says Margo T. Oge, director of the office of transportation and air quality at the Environmental Protection Agency.
More proof that good environmental policies can actually improve the bottom line.