Industry responds to UAA mail challenge

Postmaster General John E. Potter said the mailing industry is responding to his challenge to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed mail.

That was his key message May 30 at a National Press Club luncheon in conjunction with a USPS media event where the postal agency announced some of its environmental initiatives.

“A few months ago I challenged the industry to take a leadership role in making even greater strides,” Mr. Potter said. “And I’m pleased to say they’ve responded.”

Mr. Potter was referring to his challenge, made at the 2005 National Postal Forum, to reduce UAA mail by half by 2010.

“They understand the need for better targeting and the need to use the cleanest and most up-to-date address lists possible,” he said. “They understand the need to eliminate duplication and reduce waste. They understand the need to maintain in-house do-not-mail lists for new prospects and existing customers who may not be interested in everything a particular mailer has to offer.

“They understand that those who are no longer with us no longer buy, and that we’re all more receptive to mail that’s addressed to us personally instead of just ‘Current Resident,'” he said.

Mr. Potter said that if mailers don’t deal with these issues, somebody else may do it for them by stopping the wanted mail along with the unwanted.

“Over the last few months, do-not-mail legislation has popped up in over a dozen states,” Mr. Potter said. “Obviously, we oppose these legislative efforts. And the good news is more than half the states have tabled their bills. But we can’t ignore the issues that are spurring them. Mail that reaches a home where it’s not welcome isn’t a good use of anybody’s time or resources.”

Mr. Potter also said the USPS’s Web site at

Besides helping the environment by reducing the amount of unwanted mail in the system, Mr. Potter discussed other ways the agency is going green.

The USPS, for example, will begin using packaging made with recycled materials and take other steps to reduce its impact on the environment, Mr.

Potter said. The new environmentally friendly supplies will be used by each post office once they have exhausted their current inventories.

Each year, the Postal Service hands out 500 million envelopes and boxes for its Priority and Express mail. By making those packages with recycled materials and using less ink and more biodegradable adhesives, the USPS hopes to keep out of the air more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change.

The materials are 100-percent recyclable.

“The only thing that’s distinguishable is that our colors are less bright and we use less ink,” Mr. Potter said of the materials, which have deep blue bands and the white profile of an eagle.

The new packages will also have simple blue stripes for Priority Mail and orange-red ones for Express. Customers can also use the same Priority Mail or Express Mail packaging whether shipping within the United States or to another country.

The Postal Service spends about $100 million a year on packaging for the two classes of mail, Mr. Potter said. The new materials will cost the same and remain free for customers.

Because of these initiatives, Mr. Potter also announced that the USPS is the first mailing or shipping company whose packaging achieved Cradle-to-Cradle certification at the silver level from McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry for human and environmental health.

The USPS’s mailing and shipping supplies already had exceeded government requirements, including recycled content standards from the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency, the Postal Service said. But going beyond existing federal and state agency requirements was a goal in seeking certification.

Mr. Potter also discussed additional environmental initiatives with which the agency is involved.

For example, he said the USPS operates the nation’s largest alternative fuel fleet, which includes more than 37,000 vehicles powered by electricity, compressed natural gas, propane, hydrogen fuel cells, ethanol E-85 and biodiesel.

The USPS will be “investing $150 million annually on energy saving improvements,” he said, “and, as we renovate or replace older facilities and add new ones, as we upgrade building systems, we design them to be energy efficient and environmentally benign.”


John E. Potter said the mailing industry is responding to his challenge to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed mail.

links with the Direct Marketing Association’s site at

, which helps people get their names off unwelcomed mailing lists and remove the names of the deceased from other lists.

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