[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] I [/dropcap]n recent years, a growing number of people have chosen to avoid crowded shopping malls by doing their holiday shopping online. To a certain extent, online shopping reduces their carbon footprint by keeping these individuals from driving to and from the store. However, their packages still have to be delivered. What if postal customers could choose to have carbon neutral delivery for an extra fee?

In 2009, Itella, Finland’s postal service, introduced a program where customers could pay extra for carbon neutral delivery, adding the “Itella Green” marking to letters for less than a penny or parcels for around five cents. Itella achieved carbon neutrality through a combination of energy efficient delivery vehicles by funding reputable, environmentally-friendly projects. While Itella’s plans include increasing carbon efficiency in all three phases of the package delivery process: sorting, transportation, and delivery, the greatest carbon efficiency gains currently come from their shift to electric or fuel efficient delivery vehicles.
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On February 1 Itella made the cost of carbon neutrality a standard part of all postage, making it the first country to offer completely carbon neutral delivery. That way, when a customer uses Itella to send a letter, package, or direct mail, they know they are getting zero net emissions. Through their efforts, Itella has made carbon neutral delivery, a key element in developing a “green” reputation and an advantage in competitive areas like package delivery.

Is offering carbon neutral delivery as a separate, specialized service that customers can purchase an idea worth exploring for the Postal Service? The Postal Service is already in the process of converting its delivery fleet to cleaner electric vehicles, making carbon neutrality easier to achieve in the coming years. Moreover, does it make sense to give consumers a choice in terms of the environmental friendliness of their mail delivery?


This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

Comments (3)

  • anon

    Also on point of subject. So explain to me how "Postal Customer" is going to benefit from the global Chamber of Commerce reduction initiative of greenhouse gas? (does one exist?) http://www.globalclimatelaw.com/uploads/file/Petioners%20Nonbinding%20Statement%20of%20Issues.pdf Then explain the "skinny" on IRS pre-paid debit card tax refund pilot program, it's communication strategy (which includes mailing 600K letters of invitation to select low income participants), and the logic behind how this FC letter killer will sustain the Postal business model.? (Testimony 03/04/2011) When in reality, it ultimately serves to expand interchange charges to the financial services industry, and indirectly to the back of the consumer. Additionally, comparing the USPS to the interstate highway system could not be farther from the truth. i.e., the cost of building a mile of interstate highway in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma vs. City of Bridges, Pennsylvania. And, this may sting a bit, but the concept of intellectual property at the post office is simply not evident! Unless of course your defining "intellectual" as the MOU's on pilot programs that appear to be in vogue with government consultant circles these day's.

    Mar 06, 2011
  • anon

    The entire world is striving for cleaner emissions and most people would not be willing to pay extra for the post office to charge extra for a carbon free delivery, however, since the global warming is such an important topic, local post offices could begin asking for donations from the people they deliver to. Local campaigning would have a direct and immediate impact on the very area in which the donors live.

    Feb 18, 2011
  • anon

    You mean like the Chevrolet Volt with a curb weight of #3,500. So which part of Physics did we "Change"? Newton's first second or third law? If I were the King of the Post Office, I would be looking into changing the quantity of assets required to transport the quality of information from Point A to Point B.

    Feb 14, 2011

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