Circular economy

We prioritize source reduction, reuse and recycling of materials we purchase to keep them in circulation to minimize waste and demand for natural resources.

Our circular economy goals

Sustainable acquisition
Specific actions FY 2030 Targets (FY 2021 baseline)
Divert waste from landfill by increasing recycling rate
  • Divert 75% of waste from landfill
Increase packaging recycled content and recyclability
  • Increase packaging recycled content to 74%
  • Increase packaging recyclability to 88%
Purchase onsite renewable energy and renewable energy certificates
  • Increase renewable energy to 10%

Sustainable acquisition

Have you heard of the circular economy? An organization is a part of the circular economy when it helps ensure products can be reused, repaired, refurbished, renewed or recycled, thereby extending the useful lifespan of items.

Goods are kept in circulation longer and resources that would otherwise be used to make a new product are conserved. The Postal Service supports this economy by transporting parts that are used to repair items, materials to be recycled into new things, and items that can be reused by consumers. We also prioritize source reduction, reuse and recycling of materials we purchase to keep them in circulation.

USPS BlueEarth
Federal Recycling Program

We help make it easy for federal agencies and their employees to properly dispose of items like unwanted small electronics and phones. This program is easy to manage, free to federal agencies, supplements existing sustainability programs, and measurable results are available through online reports.

USPS BlueEarth
Secure Destruction

This service is a cost-effective, secure and convenient way to manage mail containing personal identifiable information. It’s designed specifically for business mailers who use the Intelligent Mail barcode. This technology enables the Postal Service to identify, intercept and securely shred and recycle undeliverable-as-addressed First-Class Mail letters and flats with personal protected information that would otherwise be returned to the sender. It helps to reduce the overall environmental impacts of the First-Class mailing industry by reducing the carbon footprint of mail as well as ensuring undeliverable mail is recycled in a secure manner.

We integrate sustainability into our supply chain through the identification and availability of environmentally preferable products. These types of products have a reduced negative effect on human health and the environment.

Environmentally preferable products (EPP) have one or more of the following attributes:

  1. Contain high levels of post-consumer content recycled materials.
  2. Are made of bio-based materials.
  3. Are energy efficient.
  4. Are water efficient.
  5. Are ecolabel certified by a reputable organization.

The Postal Service has developed sustainability clauses for our contracts to encourage suppliers to provide products that meet our EPP criteria. When buying a product or service, simply remember that “less is more.” Less product, less waste, less toxic, less raw materials, less energy and less water are almost always preferable.


Recycling and reducing waste to landfills promotes conservation, material reuse and natural resources stewardship. Recycling and eliminating waste are recognized business opportunities.

Reducing trash not only reduces disposal costs but also provides opportunities to generate recycling revenue from materials previously incurring disposal costs. Our National Recycling Operation standardizes and optimizes material handling as part of the USPS Delivering for America plan. We recycle 290,000 tons of paper, cardboard, metals, plastics and other materials annually.

Sustainable packaging

Our packaging is not only free and convenient, it’s sustainable.

Our Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express® paper and cardboard packaging meets Sustainable Forestry Initiative or Forest Stewardship Council certification standards. This means the paper is sourced through a careful chain of custody that ensures the pulp comes from sustainably managed forests. Shop sustainable

Using recycled content materials helps extend the life of the earth’s precious natural resources thereby reducing impacts to the environment.

Our partnership with How2Recycle® helps customers and employees understand how to properly recycle our packaging products. Our stamps have a big sustainability story as well. The facestock — the part of the stamp that customers see — is printed on paper that is Forest Stewardship Council certified. Additionally, the adhesive on Postal Service stamps is a special recycling compatible adhesive that allows stamps affixed to letters to be recycled with other paper products. For most customers in the U.S., this means stamped envelopes can be placed directly in their recycling bin along with other paper products.