The US Postal Service says it saved more than $52 million in 2012 by reducing energy, water, consumables, petroleum fuel use and solid waste to landfills, and generated nearly $24 million in revenue by recycling.
The agency says employee green teams played a key role in helping USPS achieve the savings and revenue, which included nearly $12 million in vehicle fuel cost avoidance, more than $10 million in facility energy savings, water savings of nearly $1 million and a decrease in supplies spending of nearly $4 million.
Additionally, green teams helped USPS recycle more than 253,000 tons of material, which saved more than $25 million in landfill fees.
Green teams identify and implement low- and no-cost sustainable practices. These are intended to help USPS meet the following goals by 2015:
- Reduce facility energy use by 30 percent compared to 2003.
- Reduce water use by 10 percent compared to 2007.
- Reduce petroleum fuel use by 20 percent compared to 2005.
- Recycle 50 percent of all solid waste compared to 2009.
USPS also says it buys sustainable materials and works to reduce the amount of supplies it purchases. The agency first developed a “buy green” policy about 15 years ago, and has a goal to reduce spending on supplies 30 percent by 2020.
The Postal Service is also working to increase the amount of environmentally preferable products it buys by 50 percent by 2015. Environmentally preferable products are bio-based, energy and water efficient, eco-labeled or contain recycled material.
In its shipping supplies, the Postal Service uses post-consumer recycled content materials diverted from the waste stream, which benefits the environment and helps customers go green when they mail their packages.
USPS participates in the International Post Corporation’s Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System, the global postal industry’s program to reduce its carbon footprint 20 percent by 2020, compared to 2008.
According to USPS’s most recent sustainability report, the agency’s carbon emissions rose 0.7 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 12.31 to 12.39 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. From 2008 to 2011 it decreased its overall emissions by 7.4 percent or almost 985,000 metric tons.
Facility energy use increased from 2010 to 2011 by 5.4 percent, from 23.8 trillion BTUs to 25.1 trillion BTUs, according to the sustainability report. But since 2003 — the baseline year — USPS has reduced its total energy use by 8.6 percent and its energy intensity by 22.4 percent.