The U.S. Postal Service is planning to ramp up spending on environmentally friendly products and services by as much as 50 percent through fiscal 2020.
The agency is updating its purchasing technology to make it easier for its contracting officers to buy environmentally preferred products and to make it easier for the Postal Service to track those purchases. The agency will set a 2014 baseline for its green purchasing program and estimates it will increase spending 5 to 10 percent annually through fiscal 2020.
The Postal Service spent $295 million on sustainable products in fiscal 2012 — such things as energy-efficient lights, heating and cooling systems, and reycled paper and office supplies.
The agency is upgrading its online catalog to enhance its search capabilities and provide employees with a more streamlined process to find green products. It will also require more detailed sustainability information from its suppliers.
The Postal Service will also add clauses to all new contracts by fiscal 2015 that will require the purchase of sustainable products whenever possible.
While most of the government is required to purchase certain types of products and reach certain sustainability benchmarks, the Postal Service is not required to. Its efforts are voluntary.
The Postal Service says it has already reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent from a 2008 baseline and has increased recycling by nearly 4 percent.
The Postal Service has also:
■Reduced energy use at its facilities by nearly 34 percent from 2003 levels.
■Reduced water use by 38 percent from 2007 levels.
■Cut spending on consumable goods by almost $200 million since 2008.
The Postal Service is working to cut its environmental footprint wherever it can, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in an April report.
“Our goal is to provide reliable, affordable mail delivery with minimal impact on the environment. We’re making progress,” he said.
The Postal Service has also encouraged the formation of “green teams” at facilities to promote sustainability and come up with ways to reduce the agency’s environmental impact.
In 2012, more than 850 green teams saved more than $52 million in energy, water and fuel costs. The teams also generated $24 million in revenue through increased recycling efforts.
Thomas Day, chief sustainability officer at the Postal Service, said the extra revenue and overall reductions in energy use should help the Postal Service save money.
“Sustainability initiatives can be a source of new revenue by fostering innovation that meets the environmentally conscious needs of our customers,” Day said.