IPC is working to systematically address the impacts of global climate change and collaborating to reduce carbon emissions across the sector through the IPC SMMS programme. We believe that through the knowledge sharing and positive action, the entire postal industry will be able to lower its environmental impacts, thereby addressing stakeholder concerns about its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.


The IPC Sustainability Measurement and Management System (SMMS) was launched in 2019 to address the sustainability objectives of the postal sector for the next ten years, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It expands on the 2009-2019 Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System (EMMS) programme, which focused on reducing carbon emissions, and broadens the remit to the seven sustainability focus areas most relevant for the postal sector:

  • Health and safety 
  • Learning and development 
  • Resource efficiency
  • Climate change
  • Air quality
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainable procurement

On this page, you will find a summary of the methodology and results for SMMS 2020 (reporting on performance in 2019). Within each of the seven ‘Focus Area’ pages (linked above) we have explained in further detail how the group is performing on these issues and how progress is measured. 


In the original EMMS programme, two ambitious targets were set to drive postal sector progress on carbon management and carbon emissions:

  • Achieve a 20% reduction in collective Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions by 2020, compared to a 2008 baseline – achieved in 2014
  • Achieve 90% in Carbon Management Proficiency (CMP) – achieved in 2018

Following eleven years of reporting on carbon emissions and carbon management and having achieved the two original targets set in 2008, the aim of the SMMS is to build on the success and experience of the EMMS to inform our approach going forward. The seven sustainability focus areas were decided upon following a two-year process involving research, consultation with internal and external stakeholders and multiple iterations. They are aligned with the following UN SDGs, identified by our stakeholders and SMMS participants as most relevant to the postal sector:

SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 - Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 - Climate action

As such, the SMMS programme is designed to further the postal sector’s contribution to global sustainable development, focusing on the areas in which it can have the most impact.   

In November 2020, mid-term targets for 2030 will be proposed to the IPC board in order to further drive advancements on key KPIs. These proposals will include a new carbon emissions reduction target, as well as new targets on alternative fuel and electric vehicles, renewable energy, waste reused or recycled, sustainable packaging, and a target on the Sustainability Management Proficiency Questionnaire. 

In 2019, participating posts were: An Post, Austrian Post, Australian Postal Corp, bpost, Correos, CTT Portugal Post, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Le Groupe La Poste, New Zealand Post Group, POST Luxembourg, Poste Italiane, Posten Norge, Posti, PostNL, PostNord, Royal Mail Group Plc, South African Post Office, Swiss Post, United States Postal Service. Please see the Annexes for further information on participation. 


Reporting is undertaken annually on the preceding year’s results (i.e. the results published on 6 November 2020 are for 2019). Each of the 19 participating posts is assessed through qualitative and quantitative elements:
Sustainability Management Proficiency (SMP) is measured qualitatively through a 150+ question survey. Overall SMP scores and Focus Area scores are given in percentages. We assess the following four core management pillars for each of the seven Focus Areas:

  • Strategy & Policy: Effective sustainability strategies set clear goals and objectives, and a vision for the future. We encourage posts to develop tools that specifically address all of the issues identified as relevant for the postal sector, and so we assess this pillar for each Focus Area. 
  • Embedding: This pillar assesses the methods by which posts embed their strategies and policies on the sustainability issues within their organisations. Posts are asked questions on topics such as management systems, certifications, employee engagement, and external initiatives. 
  • Measurement & Evaluation: Data collection and verification is a central element of the SMMS programme. Posts are encouraged to develop data collection and coverage, to develop KPIs and use these in management decision making processes, to drive progress across the Focus Areas.
  • Disclosure & Reporting:. An increasingly important area of corporate sustainability, public disclosure is how the postal sector communicates its progress and demonstrates transparency to stakeholders. We encourage posts to report against as many indicators as possible, via a range of public platforms and to provide details of methodologies, in line with reporting best practice, such as GRI guidelines. 

In the Sustainability Performance Indicators (SPI) Tool, participants submit data on topics such as electricity use, carbon emissions, destination of waste, and vehicle types. The posts submit data for all Focus Areas, apart from Sustainable Procurement, which is only assessed qualitatively. The data is then evaluated through multiple rounds of plausibility checks and supplementary evidence is reviewed, to ensure high levels of consistency. In addition, we ensure our data is accurate and credible through a third-party review from our external accountant, PwC, providing us with limited assurance on the set of SPI data outlined in the Results Summary table.