WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on Thursday unveiled goals to significantly curb its emissions and petroleum use, a week after President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies to create action plans to reduce their environmental impacts.
The USPS, which is exempt from the executive order signed by Obama last week, plans to reduce petroleum use by 20 percent by 2015 and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Additionally, the agency will trim energy use 30 percent by 2015, it announced in 2008.
The 2020 emissions reduction target is in line with goals proposed by climate legislation under development in Congress. The U.S. House of Representatives' bill passed over the summer calls for emissions cuts of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, while a different bill under consideration in the Senate is slightly more aggressive, with a goal of 20 percent fewer emissions in 2020, based on 2005 levels.
“At the Postal Service, we have a comprehensive approach to sustainable business practices, from the way we sort mail, to the way we deliver it, to the green packaging we provide customers,” Sam Pulcrano, USPS vice president of sustainability, said in a statement. “We recycle more than a quarter million tons of paper and plastic annually and operate the world’s largest civilian fleet of alternative fuel-capable vehicles.”
The goals are set on a 2007 baseline. A 2007 greenhouse gas inventory shows the agency produced 5.3 million tons of direct emissions. The USPS is the only federal agency to publicly report its emissions, it said.
More than half of emissions -- 52 percent -- was generated by contracted transportation, followed by 36 percent from its facilities, and 12 percent from its own vehicle fleet, which is also the largest collection of alternative fuel vehicles in the country.
The agency swapped 6,500 inefficient vehicles for hybrids, four-cylinder and flex-fuel models this year as part of the stimulus package.
The agency has implemented a number of initiatives to help it meet its goals, including tying the energy and fuel reduction targets to pay-for-performance goals of postal managers. Its green IT efforts have saved the agency more than $1 million in costs, while it also became the first shipper to earn Cradle to Cradle certification for its packaging.
Image courtesy of USPS.