National Recycling Operation

As previously stated, the Postal Service only diverted 40 percent of its waste from landfills to recycling. We strongly believe we can significantly increase this percentage and do so in a financially beneficial way. The Postal Service generates a large amount of recyclable material, the majority of which is mixed paper. We continue to incur disposal costs to handle much of this material which would better be turned into revenue through recycling. Just like many other organizations in the transportation, shipping and service sectors in the U.S. economy, the Postal Service is increasingly looking to leverage its existing reverse logistics capabilities into business opportunities. For the Postal Service with its extensive nationwide transportation network, the opportunity is significant.

In FY2014, USPS launched a five-year National Recycling Operation that will expand its backhaul recycling to every part of the country. Backhauling is using empty trucks and mail transportation equipment to carry recyclables from Post Offices to the large distribution centers and hubs on the return trip from transporting mail to the Post Offices. Thus no additional transportation is required for handling recyclables.

The recyclables are consolidated at the hubs to maximize recyclable commodity value. Right now, only about one-third of Post Offices, stations and branches use backhaul recycling best practices. Since mixed paper recyclables are revenue-generating commodities and their disposal as trash incurs a cost, a strong business case exists to expand adoption of these best practices across the network. Once fully implemented, more than 200 plants will serve as recycling hubs throughout the network, collecting materials from neighboring facilities.

Recycling at this level will increase employee engagement in reducing waste and help solidify the role that the Postal Service plays as a sustainability leader in the federal sector. From our perspective, this program is not just “the right thing to do” — it also provides a valuable business opportunity.