Postal Updates

USPS aims to reduce emissions from fuel and electricity

Mar 1, 2024, 2 PM

By Allen Abel

The United States Postal Service announced Feb. 6 that it will aim to “reduce emissions from fuel and electricity by 40 percent and reduce emissions from services purchased by 20 percent” during the next six years.

That declaration came two weeks after the USPS deployed its first battery-powered delivery trucks in a fleet that it plans to expand to more than 60,000 electric vehicles by 2028, and one week after it reported a net loss of $2.1 billion for the first quarter of fiscal year 2024 (October-December 2023), compared to a loss of $1 billion for the same period a year earlier.

The proposed emissions reductions are part of the Postal Service’s efforts to apply a bright green tint to its plans to pay fewer employees to work out of fewer buildings and to charter fewer fast but high-polluting aircraft to carry the mail.

The USPS predicted that savings of $2.5 billion of a projected $5 billion could be achieved “by insourcing previously outsourced operations, consolidating operations out of random buildings, modernizing facilities, reorganizing operating plans and schedules, adding more sortation equipment, and improving operating tactics to increase throughput, gain productivity and increase asset utilization.”

The Postal Service itemized its emissions and “circular economy” goals in detail, including its plans to “divert 75 percent of waste from landfills, increase recycled content of packaging to 74 percent, increase package recyclability to 88 percent, and increase renewable energy use to 10 percent.”

(The Postal Service said on its website, “An organization is a part of the circular economy when it helps ensure products can be reused, repaired, refurbished, renewed or recycled, thereby extending the useful lifespan of items.”)

The USPS also has created a four-person environmental council to oversee the implementation of its sustainability objectives. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy serves as chair of the council.

Linn’s Stamp News asked the Postal Service whether the newly announced emissions target takes into account the extra miles that employees will be driving in their own gasoline-powered cars, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles to and from the centralized sorting and delivery centers that are intended to replace thousands of smaller local facilities.

The advocacy group Save the Post Office has estimated that “overall, the average commute might increase by as much as 10 miles and 15 minutes each way.”

“If the average transit distance nationally were to increase by 10 miles and the drive time increased by 15 minutes, and if 100,000 routes were eventually relocated to S&DCs, as projected by the Delivering for America plan, the new network would require 600 million more miles and 15 million more work hours,” Save the Post Office said.

In response, Jennifer Beiro-Reveille, the Postal Service’s senior director of environmental affairs and corporate sustainability, said: “The U.S. Postal Service greenhouse gas emissions inventory covers many categories of emissions, including emissions related to changes in postal owned vehicle travel and our employees’ commute to work. Our 2030 goal setting process included analyzing network transformation factors and projections that would influence emissions categories.”

Bill Robertson, a vehicle program specialist at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in Sacramento, Calif., told Linn’s that the Postal Service is not going far enough.

“CARB believes USPS can and should evaluate additional options for greater and faster fleet electrification including heavy duty vehicles and the GAO-highlighted opportunities for workplace charging to reduce employee commute greenhouse gases,” Robertson said.

This article was updated March 1, 2024.

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