U.S. Postal Service brings nationwide paper recycling to post office lobbies

The United States Postal Service will make it easier for Post Office box customers across the country to recycle their mail.

“Read, Respond, Recycle” is the banner under which the Postal Service will reach out to postal customers with a convenient, environmentally responsible alternative to bringing home or discarding their mail.

The Postal Service recycles more than one million tons of paper, plastic and other materials.

The Post Office Box Lobby Recycling program launched will build on the success of similar programs that have been ongoing in the northeast part of the United States for more than 10 years.

The PO Box Lobby Recycling program places secure recycling bins in Post Office lobbies. All bins are locked with a key and the opening is slim — about the width of a news magazine. PO Box customers are encouraged to remove and open their mail (read), take whatever action is necessary (respond) and simply place the rest of their mail into the bin (recycle).

This program has been thoroughly tested and presents no risk to mail security or customer privacy and does not affect postal operations or costs, according to postmaster general John Potter.

“The message today is simple. Mail is recyclable,” Potter said. “We are committed to helping consumers ‘go green’ through a comprehensive approach to mail production, delivery and recycling that helps create a sustainable future for generations to come.”

The Chicago launch officially opened the first of three phases of PO Box Lobby Recycling, adding 279 new sites to the more than 3,800 existing sites. The program will expand nationally in the future.

Nationally, more than 35 percent of mail is recycled now.

Each year, the Postal Service purchases more than $200 million in products containing recycled content. Many of the containers that hold and move mail in the system are made from recycled materials, as are stamped envelopes, postcards, stamp booklet covers — even the adhesive used in postage stamps is biodegradable. And the Postal Service is the only shipping company in the country to earn Cradle to Cradle certification for all Priority Mail and Express Mail packages and envelopes based on the environmental attributes of the materials used in the packaging.

A complete list of participating post offices can be found at Earth911.com, using the word “mail” in the search engine. The list is sorted by ZIP Code.