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Category: Strategy & Investments

Sustainability and the Postal Service: Creating a Greener Future Through Product Innovation

August 5, 2020 (RISC-WP-20-005) 

  • A majority of U.S. customers are concerned about the environmental impact of deliveries and many factor in these concerns when choosing a delivery company. 
  • To respond to customers’ expectations the Postal Service — like competitors and international posts — could consider offering optional carbon compensation offsets for its letters and parcels, as well as reusable packaging solutions. 

An OIG survey found that 56 percent of Americans are concerned about the environmental impacts of deliveries, and 41 percent state that environmental practices play a major role when choosing a delivery company. 

Options such as reusable packaging present exciting opportunities for the Postal Service: 76 percent of the U.S. consumers surveyed expressed support for this emerging solution. In addition, 52 percent said they would be willing to pay an average of 32 cents per package to support carbon offsetting efforts — should the Postal Service decide to offer this option. Carbon compensation would entail, for example, the planting of new trees to help compensate for greenhouse gas emissions caused by operations. Thirteen of the 18 international posts surveyed by the OIG, as well as large U.S. competitors, already offer some kind of carbon offset program. 

Furthermore, the Postal Service has many natural advantages when it comes to reducing environmental impact, such as optimized delivery routes and fuller delivery vehicles. By adopting environmentally-friendly products and better communicating the sustainable features of its delivery network USPS can meet customers’ expectations for sustainable deliveries and establish an advantage over its competitors.