Remember when trash was just trash? Today, waste management is smart business. 

Some years ago, the U.S. Postal Service recognized it could spin trash into gold, so to speak. It could save money by reducing trash disposal costs and generate revenues by turning trash into recyclables. With its economies of scale, it could maximize benefits by investing in capital equipment and best practices to achieve productivity gains that reduce material handling costs.

In fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Postal Service approved $33 million for the National Recycling Program (NRP) to standardize its recycling activities, minimize costs, and maximize value throughout the network by negotiating better recycling and trash removal contracts. The money would purchase necessary equipment, such as compactors and dumpsters, and meet the related expenses of implementing the program nationally over a five-year rollout period. 

As of September 2017, the Postal Service has implemented the NRP at 149 of 178 planned sites, with full site implementation set for March 2019.  Our recent audit report assessed 12 sites as well as headquarters oversight and found the Postal Service did not effectively manage the NRP to ensure it met its goals and objectives. Notably, trash reduction savings were only $5.1 million of the projected $32.8 million, or 16 percent of the goal. And recycling revenue generated only $3.4 million of the projected $14.3 million, or 24 percent of the goal. 

We also found that facility employees did not accurately record recycling revenues and expenses within proper accounts. We determined these issues occurred because of a lack of effective monitoring at the HQ level. Another factor was that the program execution plan was not fully rolled out and there were no controls to ensure accurate recording of revenue/cost activity.

We recommended management strengthen controls over program operations and reassess and adjust program goals as necessary. We also recommended improvements in communications and additional training around recording entries into accounts. 

As a postal employee, what ideas do you have to improve the Postal Service’s National Recycling Program? 

Comments (4)

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  • anon

    It is remarkable, it is the valuable information

    May 04, 2018
  • anon

    Cancellation inks on stamps are too heavy. We collect cancelled stamps every year in our organization for "Cancer Research" and most of them are a mess. Especially the "new" dotting system that make the stamps look dirty. It would save money to find another system to cancel stamps lightly on the edges so we can see the beauty of the art work and read the fine print.

    Apr 14, 2018
  • anon

    Does the USPS make revenue by recycling? I, personally would be glad to bring my recyclable items to our office instead of throwing them away at home. We are rural and do not have recycling close in the area. I asked a supervisor of mine, and was told they don't think the post office makes any revenue through this, and not to bring anything. Seems like such a waste, if that is the case, between all of us employees, looks like a small dent could be made in the deficit if we all pitched in, that is IF USPS DOES make $ on this.

    Mar 26, 2018
  • anon

    Recycling at the Lansing, Michigan Processing and Distribution Center has been eliminated for plastic bottles, small electronic components and batteries. We have been told to, "Just throw it away, and FORGET IT!" Right now, at least 20 gallons of unused paint is setting on the back dock, slated to be thrown in the dumpster, headed to the local landfill.

    Mar 16, 2018

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