Union Pacific Recognized as Top Green Provider for Fresh Food and Beverage Deliveries

Union Pacific is the first large North American railroad to be recognized as a Top Green Provider by Food Logistics. The publication’s annual list recognizes companies whose products, services or leadership enhances sustainability within the food and beverage industry.

Many foods travel by train before landing on tables across the world. Union Pacific’s expedited rail network offers fast, reliable delivery while saving fuel and reducing emissions, resulting in a more sustainable global food supply chain.

“Our team is committed to enhancing sustainability by continually seeking new ways to improve operating efficiency and investing in technology that reduces our environmental footprint,” said Jason Hess, Union Pacific’s vice president-Agricultural Products.

Union Pacific also was recognized for its dedication to investing in fuel-efficient equipment. One-hundred percent of the company’s refrigeration units meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most stringent air emissions standards. Additionally, Union Pacific acquired 100 Tier 4 locomotives in 2015, which reduce particulate emissions from diesel locomotives by as much as 91 percent and oxides of nitrogen emissions by as much as 90 percent, compared to locomotives built prior to EPA standards.


Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP). One of America’s most recognized companies, Union Pacific Railroad connects 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail, providing a critical link in the global supply chain. From 2006-2015, Union Pacific invested approximately $33 billion in its network and operations to support America’s transportation infrastructure. The railroad’s diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Coal, Industrial Products and Intermodal. Union Pacific serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers, operates from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada’s rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major Mexico gateways. Union Pacific provides value to its roughly 10,000 customers by delivering products in a safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible manner.


Food Logistics is published by AC Business Media, a business-to-business media company that provides targeted content and comprehensive, integrated advertising and promotion opportunities for some of the world’s most recognized B2B brands. Its diverse portfolio serves the construction, logistics, supply chain and other industries with print, digital and custom products, events and social media.

Case Study: Seeking Employee Input Regarding Opportunities and Challenges – Union Pacific

There is no substitute for employee input regarding a company’s opportunities and challenges, which almost always connect to sustainability.  Employees often see the issues first-hand.

Union Pacific has found that Earth Day is a natural way to open a conversation with employees regarding environmental sustainability topics.  Each Earth Day, Union Pacific has used an Environmental Quiz to share messages and raise awareness.  About 1,000 employees take the quiz annually, opening a sustainability conversation with several thousand people over time.

The company uses the Environmental Quiz to seek employee feedback.  Employee responses to the 2013 quiz showed the importance of environmental sustainability concepts to them and measured how well they understood the company’s initiatives.  Responses also helped confirm the value of the company’s sustainability focuses and measure employee interest and engagement.

The quiz asked employees to identify the company’s greatest opportunity to reduce its environmental impact.  More than a third of employees identified reducing locomotive fuel consumption as the greatest opportunity.  Reducing the company’s fuel consumption rate is a key corporate priority.  Locomotives account for nearly all of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, and responses showed that employees understood that.

Another question asked employees to identify the company’s greatest opportunity to reduce waste.  Answers covered nearly 20 actions, and paper was identified as the greatest opportunity.  Like any large company, Union Pacific has a lot of paperwork, including that required by the federal government to operate trains. Even though the company had reduced paper consumption through employee suggestions, the quiz reinforced potential for further improvement.

[This case study originally appeared in the GEMI Quick Guide on Cultivating Sustainability within an Organization]. 


Sustainability 101 Case Example: Union Pacific

Founded more than 150 years ago, Union Pacific Railroad connects 23 states in the western two-thirds of the United States by rail, which provides a critical link in the global supply chain. For the full year 2014, Union Pacific reported net income of $5.2 billion.

More than 90 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from locomotive fuel to transport customers’ products. While as a company “we had frequently communicated that trains were four times more fuel efficient than trucks, we learned that statistic wasn’t as valued as a public goal.”

“When we proposed a goal to improve fuel efficiency, our senior management understood how such a goal clearly states the company’s commitment to sustainability.”

[This case example originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]

Materiality Case Study: Union Pacific

Union Pacific regularly engages with stakeholders in a multitude of forums across its operations, which span 32,000 miles and more than 7,000 communities, in which our employees live and work. This allows the company to understand the context of the most material issues on an ongoing basis.  As a result, Union Pacific has concluded that it has the context necessary to understand material issues for its sustainability management and reporting without a further formal materiality assessment.  This approach follows the GEMI materiality assessment flowchart by concluding that internal resources can adequately address the subject.

The company regularly relies on input from community forums, customer surveys, employee engagement tools, and external resources to identify items of greatest value for the company and its stakeholders.  This led the company to commit to four key sustainability and citizenship pillars:  Operating Safely, Strengthening Communities, Engaging Employees and Preserving the Environment.  The company uses the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 Guidelines to inform reporting on its most material issues.  In addition, Union Pacific uses an Enterprise Risk Management process to incorporate input from internal departments, including Strategic Planning, Operations, Law and the Environmental Management Group, to identify risks and opportunities. Each department plays a role in managing risks and opportunities and evaluating materiality and priorities.  This work results in 17 primary Key Performance Indicators – pictured below – that the company reports on each spring in its Sustainability & Citizenship Report, along with dozens of supporting initiatives.

[This case study originally appeared in GEMI’s Quick Guide on Materiality]. 

key performance ind