USPS Marching Toward a Greener Future

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By on March 5, 2010 in Current Events with 0 Comments

There seems to be never ending news when it comes to the Postal Service and its many green initiatives.
One of the latest accomplishments is the expansion of the Post Office Box Lobby Recycling program. An additional 2,435 Post Offices, including those in a number of U.S. national parks, are now part of the “Read, Respond, Recycle” program. This brings the total number of participating sites to 8,064 — an increase of 150 percent since 2005 — when the recycling effort started.
The program encourages customers to “read, respond, recycle” their PO Box mail in Post Office lobbies as a convenient and environmentally responsible alternative to taking it home to discard.
Bright postal blue recycling bins are locked and have a narrow opening — about the width of a magazine — so the mail, and customer privacy, is ensured.
“The fact the Postal Service is embracing recycling shows the community that a large government organization sees the value in protecting the earth and its resources,” says Ransomville, NY, Postmaster Sheila Gavazzi. “It sets a good example for everyone. Our sights should all be in the same direction for future generations.”
Other USPS Recycling Programs
The numbers are staggering: about 274,000 tons of wastepaper, cardboard, cans, plastics and other materials were recycled in 2008 through nationwide recycling and waste prevention programs.
And, USPS buys and uses recycled materials — more than $200 million worth of products containing recycled content each year. Many of the containers in the mail system are made from recycled materials, and so are the stamped envelopes, post cards, stamp booklet covers and packaging materials USPS provides.
The adhesives used in postage stamps are biodegradable. And Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes and envelopes are Cradle to Cradle certified, so they can go right in the recycling bin.
Other programs help the Postal Service reuse or recovery overstock and outdated electronic equipment, saving tons of potential landfill waste.
Gasoline to Electric
The Postal Service search for environmentally friendly delivery vehicles expanded recently when it awarded contracts to five companies to evaluate the feasibility of converting Long Life Vehicles (LLVs) to battery-powered electric vehicles.
Each company will develop its own electrified LLV prototype for testing this summer. The vehicles will be put into service in the Washington, DC, area to evaluate their performance, including cost-efficiency and reliability over a one-year test period.
The Postal Service currently operates approximately 142,000 LLVs nationwide. Based on their use profile, some assignments may be candidates for battery electric vehicles especially those traveling fewer than 25 miles a day and operating at low speeds.
Exploration of battery electric power and other environmentally friendly and economically feasible technology is important to the Postal Service.
Throughout its history, USPS has championed new modes of transportation in its efforts to provide prompt, reliable mail delivery.
Recent tests to help reduce the environmental impact of its fleet include:
  • Delivering mail on a trial basis using three-wheel (T3) electric vehicles in Florida, California and Arizona. The T3 is powered by two rechargeable batteries, has zero gas emissions and costs 4 cents per mile to operate.
  • Testing two fourth-generation fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, which are delivering mail in Irvine, CA, and in Washington, DC.
  • Using 35 delivery vehicles in Florida that run on propane fuel.
  • Running 300 vehicles nationwide powered by bio-diesel fuel.
For more information:
For a complete list of participating “Read, Respond, Recycle” Post Offices, go to the USPS website. Type the word “mail” in the search engine for a list by ZIP Code.
For more information on all USPS environmental programs go to the USPS Green website.

© 2017 Marilyn Jones. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Marilyn Jones.

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

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