The objective of our audit was to assess the effectiveness of the U.S. Postal Service’s National Recycling Program (NRP).

In fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Postal Service approved $33 million for the NRP as part of an overarching initiative to drive waste and cost out of operations, generate revenue, and provide better stewardship for the environment. The goal of the NRP is to reduce trash disposal costs; and increase recycling revenue from office mixed paper, undeliverable standard mail, and discarded lobby mail by maximizing the value of the existing network.

As of September 2017, the Postal Service has implemented the NRP at 149 of 178 planned sites, with full implementation targeted for March 2019. As part of this audit, we assessed recycling operations at 12 sites in the Greensboro and Suncoast districts and Postal Service Headquarters (HQ) oversight.

What the OIG Found

The Postal Service did not effectively manage the NRP to ensure prescribed goals and objectives were achieved. Specifically, as of September 2017:

  • Trash reduction savings were $5.1 million of the projected $32.8 million, or 16 percent of the goal.
  • Recycling revenue generated was $3.4 million of the projected $14.3 million, or 24 percent of the goal.

In addition, facility employees did not accurately record recycling revenue and expenses within the designated general ledger accounts.

These issues occurred because there was ineffective monitoring at the HQ level, the program execution plan was not fully rolled out, and there were no controls to ensure accurate recording of revenue/cost activity.

As a result: (1) the program is not meeting projected financial goals through its first four years; therefore, increasing the risk the program will not meet its long‑term financial goals, (2) the program has missed its trash disposal savings goal by $28 million and recycling revenue goal by $11 million; (3) recycling revenue and expenses were understated by $205,179 at the six sites we assessed, and (4) the Raleigh Processing & Distribution Center was underpaid $16,477 in recycling revenue.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management strengthen controls over program operations, implement financial monitoring and operational oversight responsibilities over the facilities to the district, and reassess and adjust program goals as necessary.

We also recommended management implement a control to validate accuracy of general ledger account entries, reiterate standard operating procedures to appropriate personnel, and provide additional general ledger account entry training, as necessary.

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Comments (5)

  • anon

    It’s all a scam %70 of the bulk mail penny savers DO NOT get delivered. Carriers only deliver bulk penny savers to the 80 year old woman. Nobody else wants them. In my facility we have 10 tracker trailers full of 100k’s penny savers every week get recycled. The suppliers don’t care, but I bet the store owners paying, the penny savers, and other bulk papers would love to know they are reaching %10 of the public....talk about a scam! Get paid and not deliver it, get paid to recycle it to!!!!!

    Dec 26, 2018
  • anon

    Many deliveries come in Parcel Select Lightweight mailers, with no recycling information. They are white on the outside, silver inside and have no labels other than the printed address and bar code. I went to the USPS website, which proudly asserts that paper boxes and envelopes can be recycled , but there is no information on what to do with these lightweight bags, other than throwing them out in the garbage. This seems like a massive problem with no attempt to solve it. ( A google search gave me no information on what these bags are made of or what to do with them. )

    Oct 25, 2018
  • anon

    We really need to start recycling the plastic strapping that comes in with the bundled mail and not just recycle the easy stuff. Plastic NEVER breaks down and we need to recycle it so it does not pollute our water ways / oceans. I agree, custodians seem to be so against recycling. We need to recycle %100 of everything we can. It should not be voluntary but "Mandatory" Thank You for your consideration of the above.

    Sep 18, 2018
  • anon

    Each person in our office has a small blue recycling bin for paper. It has the recycling emblem on it and says "We Recycle". We might has well just throw them out or send them back to the maintenance department. If we put paper in the bins for recycling, the custodians just combine it with the regular trash they are emptying. When asked why they weren't recycling it, one responded "they don't have the time". The only way any of our office's paper gets recycled is if one of us (usually our general clerk) takes it down the hall to the large paper recycling bin on our floor.

    Mar 12, 2018
  • anon

    Yes. I agree. We need recycle plastic cover and strap from bundle as well

    Mar 06, 2018