Post office recycling pushed
But at the Vail Post Office, a local environmental group has teamed up with the station’s postmasters and an Edwards interior design firm to keep the bins in place. And the recycling bins are clearly popular with the many locals who like to sort their mail on the spot after picking it up from their post office boxes.
“What better place to recycle,” says Eagle-Vail resident Jim Cotter, who was picking up his mail at the Vail post office last week. “Recycling is just an incredible part of what’s happening in society today. We keep using things up and we have to figure out how to re-use them.”
Al Dessaro, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, says not many of the country’s approximately 38,000 post offices have recycling bins. He said the container can come with risks, including serving to encourage identity theft.
Dessaro also says “direct-mail” businesses don’t necessarily want customers to have the ability to through their advertisements away immediately.
“Right now, there’s no clear policy and in fact, the postal service is very pro-active in recycling and is environmentally conscious in its internal operations,” he says. “We recycle a number of our materials – plastic bands, cardboard containers –and we use several thousand compressed natural gas vehicles.”
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Dessaro says the postal service has also built many environmentally friendly “green buildings.”
“We try to keep things as uniform as we can,” he says. “We also try to be very supportive of local communities, but you have issues more complex than they seem.”
The three recycling bins at the Vail post office will stay in place thanks to the “Green Team” at Slifer Designs, whose main office is in Edwards. The company has agreed to cover the $40-a-month cost of placing and emptying the bins, said Adam Palmer, of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, an environmental group.
Though Vail’s postmaster’s have been cooperative, the expense wasn’t in their budget, Palmer said.
“Every time you go to the post office, you want to get rid of junk mail, but when you throw it in the trash there’s a negative feeling,” he says. “To be able to do good right there, in a way that’s convenient, has a lot of benefits.”
Palmer says residents who want recycling bins at their post office should mention it to the staff there or contact Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability at 479-2440. Palmer says customers at the Vail post officer should tell the staff there they appreciate the recycling efforts.
And Eagle County’s congressman, Mark Udall, has drafted legislation to would allow local recycling programs to place recycling containers in U.S. post offices. The draft legislation requires the U.S. Postal Service to implement recycling policies and consult with local recycling companies and its customers the programs reflect community interests, Udall said.
“Many Americans, especially rural folks, don’t have carrier service and have their mail delivered to a post office box at the local post office,” Udall said. “Placing recycling containers at these facilities would not only provide a convenience to postal patrons, it would also encourage the recycling of tons of unwanted mail and keep these materials from filing up local landfill space.”-
Udall’s interest in the issue stems from a Summit County controversy, where the regional postal operations manager ordered employees to remove recycling bins from post offices. The Postal Service’s regional director for Colorado/Wyoming eventually reversed the recycling bin ban, but still restricted the number of bins allowed at post offices and instituted other policies that many local citizens and government officials said discouraged the recycling of unwanted mail, Udall said.
“I think allowing recycling bins at post offices is a common sense policy that is in the best interest of the public, the environment and the management of trash at post offices,” Udall said.
Jamas Stiber, a Vail resident, said without the bins a lot of junk mail will wind up in Dumpsters at the gas station, when people clean out their cars.
“I thought it was the coolest thing I ever saw,” said . “The mail’s going to end up in the trash if people don’t do recycle at the post office. In fact, I’m going to do it right now.”
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.