Pollution Prevention Tips

It makes good business sense to be a waste watcher — to reduce waste — to even wage war against waste. You’ve probably heard the old sayings “Haste makes waste,” and “Waste not, want not.” But have you ever taken the time to think about what these sayings mean — and if they still apply today? If you rush through a job without taking the time to think about it or do it properly, “Haste makes waste.” The same is true when you make purchases. If you take the time to buy just what you need and use up what you buy, you can eliminate waste. Purchase environmen­tally preferred products, especially those made of recycled content. These are the basic principles of pollution preven­tion, and your efforts will aid in reducing our impact on the environment.

Did You Know?

n The Postal Service recycled over 253,000 tons of material in 2012.

n Recycling not only helps the environment and reduces waste, it generates revenue for the Postal Service — $23.8 million in fiscal year 2012.

n Buying recycled products reduces the amount of material going to landfills.

n In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his or her weight in garbage, which leaves behind a legacy of 90,000 pounds of trash for his or her children. Between 1970 and 2003, one trillion alu­minum cans, worth over $15 billion, were sent to landfills.

What Does Pollution Prevention Mean to the Postal Service?

The time and money spent on waste management, stor­age, and disposal can be better spent on improving our facility operations, mail delivery performance, customer satisfaction, and employee work environment. A funda­mental principle of waste reduction is to avoid creating it! If you can’t avoid it, reduce it, reuse it, or recycle it. By fol­lowing these principles, we all become leaner, greener, and smarter.

What Can You Do?

The easiest way to put pollution prevention into practice at work and at home is to buy only what you need. Jumbo sizes that offer a discounted price for ordering twice the amount you need is not always the best solution.

What Should Employees Know?

Reduce. Common sense can lead to immediate suc­cess in pollution prevention as well as cost savings:

n Say no to leftovers. Use all products up entirely.

n Don’t use unauthorized products or bring prod­ucts from home. The Postal Service is committed to eliminating toxic chemicals from the work place.

n Prevent spills. Minimize spills by using drip pans and secondary containment, and never change vehi­cle oil in the parking lot.

n Keep dumpsters locked. An open dumpster can easily become a “community” dumpster and raise USPS waste disposal costs.

n Buy re-usable coffee cups. If you switch from paper cups to reusable mugs, you can eliminate 25 pounds of unrecyclable paper waste annually.

Reuse. Waste that can’t be reduced should be reused. Reuse of materials which would otherwise become waste is important for pollution prevemtion:

n Reuse Mail Transportation Equipment (MTE). Make sure MTE that cannot be reused, is sent to the local Mail Transportation Equipment Service Center (MTESC).

n Protect recyclables. Store recyclable materials such as cardboard in dry areas.

n Use rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batter­ies can last up to three years with as many as 500 to 800 charge-recharge cycles. It beats “one time use” alkaline batteries.

n Use reusable shopping bags. You can get reusable bags for free in many cases. Bringing your bag elim­inates all waste disposal issues with paper or plastic bags.

n Reuse elastic bands. If every carrier collected and reused our elastic bands, the Postal Service would save a million dollars a year.

Recycle. If you can’t reuse it, recycle it. Recycle what­ever you can, whenever you can. Do this at home and at work to prevent pollution and create a more sustainable environment.

Where Can You Find Additional Information?

For more tips on pollution prevention, visit:

n The USPS Sustainability website at

n The EPA’s Pollution Prevention website at and the “Consumer Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste” at