Our sustainability efforts involve engaging both our employees and the communities we serve.
Our people are sustainability champions
The Postal Service prides itself on providing timely, cost-effective mail service to everyone in our country and for having great people to provide that service.
It’s no surprise then that the real story to any organization’s successful sustainability effort involves its people. To help you understand the contributions and efforts of our employees, we are profiling just a few of the many exceptional performers within our organization. Their diverse backgrounds are testament to the fact that a sustainability champion can come from any part of an organization.
We have benefited immensely from their spirit of volunteerism, their willingness to meet new challenges with exceptional results, and their ability to become change agents, who have embraced new ways of doing things that have changed the way the Postal Service does business.
Sustainability is now a way of life here. We make it happen!
Karen first found out about the Postal Service’s sustainability efforts while reading a USPS sustainability newsletter. Then her manager asked if she would coordinate a new program to offer lobby recycling to our customers in the Los Angeles District. The “Read, Respond and Recycle Your Mail” campaign encourages customers to recycle their lobby mail discards in secure recycling containers located in the Post Office lobby.
With her usual “can-do” spirit, Karen ended up leading the lobby mail recycling effort for all Los Angeles District Post Offices. Her success was typical of the dedication and leadership she has shown throughout her career.
The lobby mail recycling campaign was a huge success, and the volunteer effort by Karen and other district employees culminated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Santa Monica Post Office attended by local and state officials.
“I am proud of the effort and teamwork our group brought to the effort,” Karen said. “We pooled our resources and made it happen.” Now, she says managers and employees are asking how other materials can be recycled. “Sustainability is now a way of life for us,” she said.
This super sustainability performer says recycling is good for the environment and for business.
The Detroit NDC’s “super back-haul” program, as it is now known, started as a local effort. Under Greg’s leadership, it grew to a regional program and is now an interstate recycling hub for mixed paper, cardboard and plastic recyclables.
Using existing postal transportation networks, the Detroit NDC accepts recyclables from 75 percent of the USPS processing centers in Michigan, as well as from facilities as far away as Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Greg credits the Detroit NDC plant manager for supporting the idea and hard work by a team of employees who have developed the program into a lean, green operation. “The effort is even more unique,” Greg said, “because we sell our cardboard directly to a paper mill and our clean plastic shrink wrap is bought in bulk by a maker of alternative wood products.”
Economies of scale have allowed the plant to market directly with end users to increase USPS revenue and reduce disposal costs. Greg, who will be retiring from the Postal Service this year, says the recycling program is a great way to finish his career.
“I’m leaving on a high note,” he said. “This effort demonstrates the Postal Service can enact similar programs across the country. We still have room to grow here in Detroit. The program is in good hands and will only get better.”
This Postal Service sustainability pioneer declared war on waste!
Jim was championing sustainability before it became an organized practice at the Postal Service. He first became acquainted with the Postal Service’s environmental efforts in 1994, as an Albany District environmental coordinator. His efforts in Albany helped change the way we recycle. He refined many of the recycling best practices now in use at USPS.
Under Jim’s leadership, the Albany District, with its more than 700 offices, became our first Zero Waste District. It has reached a recycling rate of 95 percent — the best in the Postal Service. Today, Albany has the lowest waste costs in the country and fewest tons sent to landfills. Every office in the Albany District, which services some 3.5 million customers, participates in the recycling program.
But Jim’s effort extended beyond his own district. With a talent for solving local issues that has brought about national solutions, he has been instrumental in starting programs with nationwide impact. One of them involved a new plastic mail-processing tray.
He located a recycler willing to not only accept the new trays, but pay USPS for them as well. What started as a local effort has grown, and Albany now is a national hub that consolidates the trays from around the country.
He also led an effort to set up a mail-back program to recycle fluorescent lamps. “We needed a cost-effective solution that was environmentally sound,” he said. Working with a lamp recycler, Jim designed a program for local Post Offices to mail back the lamps in specially designed containers.
Again, what began as a local initiative soon became part of a nationwide solution. Jim’s efforts clearly show how starting locally can lead to new ways of doing business nationally that benefit the environment and the USPS bottom line.
Connecting our people — A Green Team update
During this period of fiscal challenge for the Postal Service, it is critical that we continue to make our operations leaner, greener, smarter and faster. Last year, we rolled out our employee Green Team program at selected locations to help lower operational costs and reduce our environmental footprint.
Our Green Teams identify and implement low- and no-cost efforts to reduce resources, focusing on our five sustainability performance target areas: energy, waste, fuel, water and consumables spending.
This year, to make it easier for employees to participate, we developed an online interactive tracking tool that pulls metrics from multiple databases into one place so our Green Teams can see how they are performing in real time.
This green initiative tracking tool compares current and same-period-last-year data so Green Teams can easily see if they are meeting their targets. Today, we have over 900 employees using the tool. We also rolled out online Green Team tutorial videos and training to help employees implement green efforts at their facilities.
2011 Postmaster General Sustainability Excellence awards
In 2011, we recognized employee contributions and teams with our second annual Postmaster General Sustainability Excellence awards. The program is sponsored by the Postmaster General and implemented by the Office of Sustainability.
A national selection committee evaluated nominations from across the country based on a ranking system that lets all facilities, large and small, have a chance to compete fairly.
Nomination categories included green purchasing and reducing spending on consumables, energy efficiency and reduction opportunities, vehicle petroleum use reduction, green IT and electronics stewardship, employee engagement in sustainability and promoting green services to our customers. The 2011 PMG Award recipients included:
- Headquarters, Supply Management — National Asset Recovery Program
- Great Lakes, Detroit Network Distribution Center — Super Backhaul!
- Pacific Area — One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
- Western Area — Arizona District Recycling Program
- Northeast Area, Albany District — Albany Waste Reduction Initiative
- Northeast Area, Connecticut Valley District — Integrated Sustainability Initiative
- Eastern Area, Western Pennsylvania District — Recycling the Goods in Penn’s Woods
- Southwestern Area, San Antonio Processing and Distribution Center — Show Me the Green at San Antonio
- Headquarters, Employee Resource Management — NCED Lean Green Team Initiatives
- Southwestern Area, Rio Grande District — Saving Green with CNG in Corpus Christi
Employees’ opinions matter — sustainability engagement
The USPS Voice of the Employee (VOE) survey measures employee engagement. Engaged employees feel valued by the organization, have a sense of ownership, understand how they contribute to the organization’s success and share in improving the work environment.
Analyses of VOE survey data conducted during the past year have consistently shown significant relationships between employee engagement and the performance of the Postal Service. We are very interested in how employees perceive our sustainability efforts. This will help us understand how well we are communicating our sustainability messages and where we need to improve.
Our community connection
Few organizations have the scope and reach of the Postal Service. We deliver to every community in America, touching the lives of millions of our citizens. USPS is consistently rated as one of the most trusted federal agencies, and our employees work hard to keep that trust. Our commitment to the communities, cities and towns in which we live and work runs deep.
Our employees are continually a source of inspiration for our organization. Postal Service employees pledged an average of $38 million annually to the Combined Federal Campaign, the world’s largest workplace philanthropy program.
Each year, the Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers hold the largest one-day food drive in the nation. In 2011, more than 70.2 million pounds of food were collected. More than 1.1 billion pounds of food have been collected since the drive began in 1993.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service works with Valassis and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on the “Have You Seen Me” campaign. As of December 2011, the campaign has returned 151 missing children to their families.
Postal employees also save lives. The Postal Service, National Marrow Donor Program and Be the Match Foundation created the Delivering the Gift of Life campaign 15 years ago. Nearly 57,000 postal employees and their families have joined the Be the Match registry.