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It’s easier being green

USPS marks America Recycles Day

Shari Young, a mail handler, recycles plastic material at the Curseen-Morris Processing and Distribution Center in Washington, DC.

On Nov. 15, the Postal Service will observe America Recycles Day, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of conservation and recycling.

In many ways, though, every day is recycling day for the Postal Service.

One milestone came in 2013, when the organization launched the National Recycling Operation, or NRO, which streamlined postal recycling efforts nationwide.

The NRO established hubs to handle backhaul recycling, which takes advantage of existing transport equipment to bring recyclables from delivery and retail units to the hub.

During the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, more than 18,000 Post Offices, stations and branches recycled more than 175,000 tons of undeliverable Marketing Mail via their service hubs. (In 2020, some of it was even turned into insulation.)

Cardboard recycling, in particular, has surged as a result of the increase in package deliveries. In the past five years, it has increased from 20,000 tons to 65,000 tons.

“The increase in the quantity of cardboard in our operations provides new business opportunities to improve handling efficiency, reduce waste and generate recycling revenue,” said Jennifer Beiro-Réveillé, Environmental Affairs and Corporate Responsibility senior director.

Recycling is only part of the Postal Service’s sustainability efforts, however. The organization also uses solar panels to power some facilities and hydrogen fuel cells to juice up forklifts.

USPS is also making a significant investment in fuel-efficient vehicles.

In addition, the Postal Service has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency for several years, including programs to reduce and divert waste.

“We are continuing to look for innovative and impactful ways to protect the environment and improve our bottom line. The communities we serve have an expectation that the Postal Service will continue to do its part as a leader in environmental stewardship,” Beiro-Réveillé said.

The Environmental Affairs and Corporate Sustainability Blue page has more information on the Postal Service’s recycling efforts.