It’s in the mail

In an essay in the Washington Post, Postmaster General John Potter challenged what he called myths about the post office, including that it is environmentally unfriendly.

“There’s no way around it: Delivering mail uses fossil fuels, and mail often produces paper waste,” he wrote. “Still, the Postal Service is greener than you think. As long as consumers and businesses use physical mail, we’re committed to finding ways to process it responsibly.”

Potter wrote that the post office uses 44,000 alternative fuel capable vehicles, including electric, three-wheeled electric, hybrid electric, ethanol, fuel-cell, biodiesel and propane technology vehicles. The raw materials used in package, tape and labels sold by the Postal Service are recyclable and made of environmentally friendly materials, giving it a better record that commercial firms.

Last year, Americans recycled more than 200,000 tons of paper, plastics and other waste—the equivalent of saving 1.67 million barrels of oil. In 8,000 post offices nationwide, signs remind post office box customers to open their mail, take whatever action is necessary and place the waste in our recycling bins.