Keep it cool

USPS will offer a cold chain packaging service — used for shipping perishables and other items — to businesses and other customers, starting Sept. 12.

The organization has been testing the packaging for several months with businesses that ship food, medical supplies and other items.

Called Priority Mail Express Cold Chain Packaging, the service is designed specifically for products that must remain cold for up to 72 hours at 45 degrees or below during shipment.

The packaging consists of a Priority Mail Express box and a 100 percent reusable polystyrene cooler insert.

One pack of three boxes and inserts will be available at store for $48.

The service includes next-day to two-day delivery by 6 p.m. with a money-back guarantee.

Customers must purchase Priority Mail Express postage and Extra Services — such as Return Receipt, additional insurance, and Adult Signature Required — at the time of mailing.

Customers are responsible for supplying cooling materials to keep items cold during shipment. Postage will not be refunded for temperature-controlled items that do not remain cold.

In 2019, the global cold chain packaging segment, which includes meal kit companies, was valued at $15 billion, according to a study by Grand View Research, a market data firm.

 Priority Mail Express Cold Chain Packaging is expected to help USPS gain market share in this growing segment.

UPU Congress meets

The United States won seats on two international postal councils at the Universal Postal Union Congress, which ran from Aug. 9-27.

The union, known as the UPU, is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose core mission is to facilitate the exchange of international mail among its 192 member countries.

Remuneration (international postal payments for services rendered), gender equity and greenhouse gas emissions were among the issues addressed in the more than 200 proposals before this year’s Congress, held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The United States was elected to both the Council of Administration (CA), which supervises the union’s activities between sessions and studies regulatory, administrative and legal issues, and the Postal Operations Council (POC), which handles economic and operational issues.

“Our election to the POC and the CA ensures that the UPU will continue to benefit from the many resources, leadership and knowledge that the United States has long contributed to the UPU,” said Judy de Torok, the Postal Service’s corporate affairs vice president.

Additionally, the United States was designated a co-chair of Committee 1 of the POC. Committee 1 addresses supply chain issues such as customs and transport.

This year’s meeting boasted two firsts: the first regular session held in sub-Saharan Africa and the first to include both in-person and remote participation.

Masahiko Metoki of Japan and Marjan Osvald of Slovenia were elected director general and deputy general, respectively. Both will assume their posts in January.

The quadrennial congress will next meet in 2025 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. An “Extraordinary Congress” will be convened in 2023 to address some of the matters discussed at this year’s meeting, including opening the UPU to wider postal sector players.

Business Reply Mail training

A training course on Business Reply Mail procedures and invoicing will soon be available in HERO.

The course, titled Business Reply Mail, is mandatory for Level 18 Postmasters, lead retail associates, retail associates, sales and service distribution clerks, postage due clerks, postage due technicians, mailing requirements clerks, bulk mail clerks, bulk mail technicians and bulk mail dock clerks.

There will be a supplemental video titled “Intelligent Mail barcode Accounting (IMbA) Sampling and Verification.”

Because all Qualified Business Reply Mail (QBRM) customers — those with a specific account for larger-scale mailings — will soon be moved to IMbA, it is important that IMbA’s nuances are understood and followed properly to prevent double-billing.

Business Reply Mail is an attractive, cost-saving measure for businesses because the Postal Service charges only on pieces that customers send back to the mailer.

The Business Reply Mail Blue page has more information.

Gift cards

USPS is offering savings on Mastercard gift card purchases at select Post Offices this month.

From Sept. 4-17, customers and employees will receive $2 off the purchase fee of Mastercard gift cards valued at $50 and $100.

Variable load gift cards are excluded. No coupon is needed