Greening the Postal Service

During 2012, the Postal Service saved more than $52 million through its sustainability efforts and generated nearly $24 million in revenue through its recycling programs. That same year, the United States Postal Service delivered 159.86 billion pieces of mail to 152.15 million customer locations.

“We foster sustainable practices through employee-led ‘Lean Green’ teams that help us save money by promoting recycling and smart energy use,” reported Thomas G. Day, Chief Sustainability Officer. “Our employees share a commitment to making our operations more efficient through better resource management.”

Among other achievements, that commitment led to Lean Green teams recycling 253,908 tons of material during 2012, including undeliverable mail, cardboard, and plastic. With a 48% recycling rate, the Postal Service is on track to achieve its 50% goal by 2015.

Other environmental goals include:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020
  • Reducing facility energy use 30% by 2015
  • Reducing water use 10% by 2015
  • Reducing spending on consumables 30% by 2020
  • Increasing purchases of environmentally preferable products each year
  • Reducing total postal-vehicle petroleum fuel use 20% by 2015

Two of these goals, reducing facility energy use and water use, have already been achieved. By 2012, facility energy use had dropped 34% and water use had decreased by 38%. Work continues to reduce energy and water use further. The Postal Service is on track to achieve the other goals with a single exception — reducing postal-vehicle fuel use. That target remains elusive as an aging vehicle fleet serves a growing number of delivery points each year. However, the Postal Service continues to experiment with new route management techniques and other efforts to address this issue.

To increase the use of environmentally preferable products, the Postal Service has established minimum post-consumer recycled content standards for shipping and packaging materials.

The Postal Service was the first federal agency to sign up on a nationwide basis for the Federal Green Challenge, a national initiative under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Sustainable Materials Management Program. The United States Postal Service was also the first federal agency to publicly report its greenhouse gas emissions and seek independent verification of its results.

To learn more about the Postal Service’s sustainability efforts, visit


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