Sustainability Performance

The Postal Service is committed to reporting the results of our sustainability efforts every year. Our targets are in conjunction with those established through Presidential Executive Order in terms of reductions and base years for comparison. In CY2015, we achieved the following:

We also track our vehicle fuel usage. Postal Service-owned vehicle transportation fuel use increased by 19 percent. The continued increase in fuel use is due to an aging fleet of delivery vehicles that we are in the process of replacing, as well as a growing number of delivery points which adds to the miles we travel.

In 2016, the Postal Service updated our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our new goal is to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our facilities, vehicles, purchased electricity and steam by 25 percent by 2025. We also plan to reduce our Scope 3 emissions by 30 percent by 2025. Scope 3 emissions include categories such as contracted transportation, leased facilities and employee commuting emissions.

As a sustainability leader, we report three separate greenhouse gas inventories. The first is with our federal peers through Executive Order 13693: Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade. The second is with our industry peers at the International Post Corporation, and lastly, with our business peers at The Climate Registry. In addition, we also report progress to the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and the Office of Management and Budget Scorecard. Each of these efforts furthers our transparency.

Climate Change Adaptation – Climate change could potentially disrupt our ability to provide consistent mail service. To better manage emerging risks and ensure effective operations and resiliency, the Postal Service works to incorporate climate impacts into strategies, plans, business processes and programs. In 2015, the Postmaster General reaffirmed this commitment in a memorandum. Internal steering and working groups track and manage climate change considerations in appropriate actions and policies. They also work to identify ways that long-term planning and collaboration can reduce or avoid costs associated with natural disasters, rising sea levels and temperature extremes. The groups take into account rebuilding costs, downtime, equipment loss, employee safety and other significant cascading effects resulting from climate change.

In 2016, our efforts focused on three areas:

Read our plan at:

Annual Sustainability Report – This year our Annual Sustainability Report incorporates Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Guidelines and focuses on a new, repeatable reporting process. We used the guidelines, including a stakeholder engagement pilot process, to solicit sustainability input from our internal stakeholder group. Through this stakeholder engagement, we consider social, economic and environmental impacts to operations while considering risks, opportunities and long-term prospects.

In a pilot test of a sustainability engagement process, we surveyed a focus group to identify areas of concern relevant to our operations. In the coming years, we will revisit the stakeholder engagement process, gradually including a larger and wider array of stakeholders to ensure we are reporting on what matters most.

Read the Annual Sustainability Report at:

Environmental Compliance – Continuous improvement drives our management systems approach to environmental compliance. Several standardized national programs, including environmental compliance reviews (ECRs), facilitate compliance at Postal Service sites with environmental risk factors (e.g., vehicle maintenance and mail processing activities, regulated underground storage tanks and other significant permits/plans). Each year, we conduct approximately 200 ECRs and hundreds of other environmental compliance support site visits. Beyond assessing compliance, these visits also provide “hands on” training and assistance to sites in data management, record keeping and other vital functions, and also assist in disseminating policies, guidance and tools and collecting records and data for corporate systems.

Standardized guidance, training and record keeping are part of our electronic management systems approach to maintain compliance. The Postal Service maintains a comprehensive inventory of program guidance and implementation tools on our compliance website. Additionally, a centralized data management system provides easy access to key environmental data indicators. In FY2016, we initiated a mobile application to provide instant access to site data during environmental compliance visits.

In FY2016, the Postal Service continued implementing its underground storage tanks strategy focused on providing the Postal Service with a modern tank infrastructure that reduces environmental risk, improves emergency fueling planning and maintains associated bulk fuel cost savings. In addition to strategically removing and replacing these tanks, the program establishes a centralized national monitoring system and provides on-site compliance support.

USPS BlueEarth Federal Recycling Program – With the knowledge gained from our own sustainability efforts, the Postal Service is committed to assisting our customers in achieving their own green objectives.

The USPS BlueEarth Federal Recycling Program for printer cartridges and electronic waste is part of a branded suite of sustainability solutions and innovations designed for our federal customers. The program provides government agencies and their employees with the ability to securely and efficiently recycle electronic devices and printer cartridges free of charge on a national level. Recycling programs help prevent e-waste from going to landfills, which can be dangerous to both the environment and human health.

Twenty-three federal agencies are currently enrolled, including the Postal Service. Federal agencies receive a recycling activity report with data to assist them in meeting Executive Order 13693 sustainability requirements. Additionally, this effort has been recognized as an example of “federal government leading by example” under the National Strategy for Electronic Stewardship.

All federal agencies can enroll in the USPS BlueEarth Federal Recycling Program to recycle electronic devices using the Postal Service network. This program makes it simple for federal agencies and their employees to properly dispose of items such as printer cartridges and obsolete small electronics. All items are shipped to a certified third-party recycling facility, which ensures they are either securely recycled or re-manufactured for resale opportunities.

Besides providing a simple, secure and cost-effective way to recycle e-waste, the USPS BlueEarth Federal Recycling Program also increases mail volume and postage revenue. For information about the program for federal agencies, visit

National Recycling Program – As previously stated, the Postal Service diverted 41 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, the Postal Service launched a five-year National Recycling Operation capital equipment investment initiative to expand our backhaul recycling to every part of the country. Backhauling is using the space available in trucks and mail transportation equipment to carry recyclables from Post Offices to large distribution centers and hubs on the return trip from transporting mail to Post Offices. The materials are consolidated for recycling at those hub locations, and thus no additional transportation is required for handling recyclables. To date, capital equipment has been deployed into 39 districts and 97 USPS facilities.

USPS BlueEarth Secure Destruction Mail Service Program – The USPS BlueEarth Secure Destruction Mail Service Program is another key branded and innovative sustainability solution, launched nationwide in FY2015. Designed specifically for business mailers using the Intelligent Mail barcode, the program securely shreds and recycles letter-size pieces of undeliverable-as-addressed First-Class Mail with personal protected information that would otherwise be returned to the sender. Secure Destruction is an opt-in service that operates under the protection and supervision of the Postal Service.

Mailers enrolled in the program receive a daily electronic notice of the mailpieces sorted for Secure Destruction. These e-notifications are provided to registered mailers through the USPS Electronic Product Fulfillment customer portal website.

Mailing industry benefits of Secure Destruction:

Benefits for registered mailers:

The SD Mail Service Program has been operational for two years now and continues to grow and attract new business mailers. In FY2016, more than 30.6 million pieces of undeliverable SD mail was captured, destroyed and recycled in-house by USPS employees. This is an improvement from FY2015 with over 5.3 million additional pieces of SD mail captured.





Mail Volume (pieces)



Potential GHG Reduced (metric tons CO2 equivalent)



Paper Recycled (metric tons)



Capture Rate