USPS’s Pulcrano on the challenge of sustainable postal operations
Q: How would you describe your role within the US Postal Service?
A: The VP of sustainability is a new position for our organization. I was appointed to this position in May. The way my role was envisioned is that I am the central point person and spokesperson for the organization on sustainability activities and initiatives. Currently, we have a lot of great activities going on in each of our business units. We found we needed to pull them all together, and bring them into a corporate strategic sustainability plan with long-term goals.
Q: How have your previous positions within the USPS prepared you for this new appointment?
A: I will have 33 years of experience in the postal service as of September. In past years I’ve been running the corporate safety and the environmental programs. On the environmental side, during the past few years, I was involved in sustainability issues as they were unfolding throughout the industry. So it seemed to be a logical step to move into this position and look at these issues in a unified way.
Q: What are your goals as corporate VP of sustainability?
A: We are working on a number of mail-back initiatives for recycling. We’re working on a pilot recycling program for compact fluorescent light bulbs. This fall, we plan to announce that we’re going nationwide with our take-back recycling program for small electronics. Right now, it’s being piloted in about 1,500 locations. We’re providing a package for recycling your iPod, cell phone, BlackBerry or any small electronic device.
We’ve also commissioned a greenhouse study to help us establish what our carbon footprint would be. One of the corporate goals in the future is to establish targets to reduce that CO2 emission, as well as our impact on the environment in the communities we serve across the country.
Q: With fuel costs rising, what steps is the USPS taking to explore alternative fuel options?
A: Currently, we have 10 Ford Escape Hybrids that are working very well for us. We’re about to go into the fourth generation of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. We’re working in partnership with General Motors, and we’ll have one of those vehicles in the Washington, DC area and one in Irvine, California.
We’re also looking at identifying routes that can be converted back to walking routes. We’re also looking at where we can use bicycles to deliver the mail. We already have bicycle routes in Florida and Arizona.
On the operations side, we’re exploring ways to reduce our fuel consumption. We have software that optimizes letter carriers’ routes by reducing the number of left-hand turns, U-turns and park points made. By doing that, you reduce idle time and can lessen the fuel a driver would consume.
Q: Why are green initiatives so important for the USPS right now?
A: The postal service has a long history of environmental performance and green initiatives. We were recycling before recycling became popular. But certainly within the current environment, there’s more emphasis on it.
Like everyone else in the industry, we’re paying attention to our responsibility to the environment and our impact on the communities that we serve. We’re looking at every opportunity to provide our services and products with the least amount of environmental impact — and still maintaining all of the value the each consumer desires.