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The Upside of Cutting Saturday Mail Delivery

Is it so surprising that the U.S. Postal Service has decided to cut Saturday service considering the staggering drop in mail volume (a projected 30% decline in 2010 from 2007 levels) in recent years? And really, aside from Luddites and eager Netflix subscribers, who will care if Saturday becomes a mail-free day? In addition to potentially saving the USPS some much-needed cash, the move to slash Saturday delivery will have the side effect of drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental Leader reports:

Reducing street delivery would save anywhere from 315,000 to 503,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or the same as eliminating the annual emissions from 60,000 to 96,000 cars. This amount represents 3-5 percent of USPS’s 2007 emissions from facilities, owned vehicles and contract transportation, which totaled 11.2 million metric tons. Nearly all the GHG reductions will come from fuel saved by reducing the miles driven. Some minor savings will be possible because of reduced energy use at large facilities, USPS said.


This is, of course, an incidental benefit for the USPS. The real reason for cutting Saturday mail service is cost—the USPS estimates that it will lose up to $238 billion by 2020 if it doesn't make any changes. But that's not to say that the Postal Service isn't taking concrete measures in the sustainability realm. The USPS already has the largest green roof in NYC, plans to buy 900 hybrids and 1,000 alternative fuel vehicles (including all-electric delivery trucks), and maintains a processing center in San Francisco that features $15 million worth of energy-efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning, a fuel cell, and solar panels.

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  • Stuart Boyle

    If somehow you could arrange a single vendor delivery for residential deliveries, it would seem to further increase efficiencies, reduce costs and reduce the environmental impact. Does it really make sense for a USPS, Fed Ex and UPS truck to be driving around the the neighborhood everyday? I don't see 3 different trash trucks driving around the neighborhood.

  • Rick Maher

    USPS cutting Saturday delivery is great, and their efforts to use more efficient vehicles is awesome - but why not learn from Finland and cut 5/6 days of delivery down to one by scanning and emailing all the non physical essential mail! I wrote about it on my website this weekend (