Lean Green Teams Promote Resource Conservation and Save the Postal Service Money

“Rethink, reduce, renew” is more than just a slogan at the Postal Service™. It’s a way of working greener that has been embraced by employees, and it is producing impres­sive results.

The Postal Service has saved millions of dollars — $5 million in 2010 alone — through its efforts to reduce energy and conserve resources. The Postal Service is recy­cling paper, plastic, cardboard, and metal at a rate that’s unprecedented in its history. Last year, the Postal Service recycled more than 222,000 tons of material, which gener­ated $13 million in revenue and saved an additional $9.1 million in landfill fees.

Taking advantage of the high rebates for mixed paper and cardboard, Postal Service recycling in 2011 is on track to save dividends of more than $20 million. The combined efforts of three districts Suncoast, Houston, and Arizona have generated just under $1 million in revenue from the sale of recycled material in the first 4 months of fiscal year 2011. In some locations in Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama, employ­ees are bringing in their recyclable material from home to add to the recycle stream, which is generating over 100 tons per month and over $10,000 in revenue in the Suncoast alone.

Playing a crucial role in this trash-to-treasure success story are Lean Green Teams. More than 80 of these cross-functional teams are in place at postal facilities, working to promote low-cost and no-cost ways to save money and reduce consumption. Actions could be as simple as mak­ing sure lights are turned off in empty rooms or adjusting building thermostats. The Postal Service plans to deploy Lean Green Teams nationwide by 2012.

“Postal employees understand the needs of both the environment and our organization and are stepping up to the challenge,” says Emil Dzuray, acting chief sustainability officer. “Working together, we’re building a conservation culture and reducing our carbon footprint.”

With the assistance of Lean Green Teams, the Postal Service is getting closer to achieving its 2015 sustainability goals of reducing facility energy use 30 percent, petroleum fuel use 20 percent, water use 10 percent, and waste sent to landfills 50 percent.

The Postal Service also plans to reduce spending on consumables 30 percent by 2020, and increase the amount of environmentally preferable products it buys by 50 per­cent by 2015.

For more information about initiatives that are helping the Postal Service promote efficient resource use, reduce costs, lower its carbon footprint, and build a conservation culture, go to www.usps.com/green.