USPS, MBDC announce 'Cradle to Cradle Certification'

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Consumers and businesses can now send a "green" message across town or around the world when sending Priority Mail and Express Mail packages and envelopes.

The U.S. Postal Service said on May 30 that it has become the only mailing or shipping company in the nation to achieve "Cradle to Cradle Certification" at the silver level from McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry for human and environmental health.

"We are proud that the collaborative efforts of so many businesses, suppliers and production companies will result in improved human and environmental health," said Postmaster General John Potter, who spoke at a media event yesterday. "At the Postal Service we continue to find innovative ways to help the environment without passing added costs onto our customers. Consumers will not see any change in price, service or convenience."

The USPS's mailing and shipping supplies already had exceeded government requirements, including recycled content standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the agency said. But going beyond existing federal and state agency requirements was a goal in seeking certification.

Cradle to Cradle Certification is a scientifically based process that reviews specific criteria to assess the environmental attributes of materials used in products. MBDC examined 60 packaging items, breaking those items down to 250 component materials and then further analyzing 1,400 individual ingredients in those component materials before awarding the certification.

Based on the recycled content of the more than 500 million Express Mail and Priority Mail packages and envelopes the Postal Service provides its customers each year, more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions (climate change gases) now will be prevented annually. Express Mail and Priority Mail boxes and envelopes also are 100 percent recyclable.

To achieve certification, all 200 suppliers contributing to the manufacture of Postal Service envelopes and packages completed a demanding series of measurements and assessments of materials for human and environmental health. Maintaining these new, higher standards is now an integral part of doing business with the Postal Service.

All materials were examined using 39 criteria for human and environmental health, including toxicity, renewable energy, water stewardship, recyclability and other manufacturing attributes.

The USPS also worked with MBDC to gain certification for an additional 200 million pieces of mailing supplies used each year (decals, labels, packing tape), examining inks, tapes and adhesives.

The USPS also has redesigned all Priority Mail and Express Mail packages and envelopes, including the popular Flat-Rate boxes and envelopes. Customers now can use the same Priority Mail or Express Mail packaging whether shipping within the United States or to another country. Eliminating the need for separate materials for international mail further reduces source material for recycling.

All Priority Mail and Express Mail packages and envelopes, and the popular Flat-Rate boxes and envelopes, are available free.

"Free and even more environmentally friendly - that's a message everyone can send," Anita Bizzotto, Postal Service chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

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