April 22 is Earth Day, a time for employees and contractors to reflect on the Postal Service’s sustainability efforts — including the value of recycling.
USPS annually recycles approximately 300,000 tons of paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, printer ink cartridges and toner, batteries, discarded mail and other materials through its recycling and waste prevention programs.
One of those programs — the National Recycling Operation, or NRO — uses postal transportation equipment to move recyclables from delivery and retail units to recycling hubs.
NRO helped postal facilities recycle more than 85,000 tons of cardboard in 2022, up from 39,000 tons in 2017.
Mixed paper — including white and colored paper, newspaper, envelopes, magazines, catalogs and directories, manila file folders and even Post-it notes — were also recycled.
Recycled paper is often used to make cardboard boxes, according to EcoWatch, an environmental news organization.
In 2021, approximately half of the paper recovered for recycling in the United States was later used to make cardboard boxes, such as Priority Mail shipping supplies, which can be recycled again.
Paper is “one of the most-often recycled materials, accounting for half of the materials collected for recycling by weight,” EcoWatch reported.
The NRO is one of several initiatives — including the annual USPS Sustainability Excellence Awards, which recognize efforts to create a more sustainable workplace and protect the environment — that integrate sustainability principles across the organization.
The Environmental Affairs and Corporate Sustainability Blue page has more information about recycling.