Mail Transport Equipment (MTE) comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, but serves one common purpose: to move the mail. MTE is used:
- In plants to support machine and manual separations;
- In delivery units to present mail to carriers, hold mail in sequence for delivery, and collect mail from the public;
- In acceptance offices to receive mail from mailers and separate it for processing; and
- In mailer’s facilities to sort, prepare, and transport mail to the USPS®.
Everyone using MTE has a responsibility to use it appropriately, keep it from being damaged, and keep it moving through the system. Annually, the Postal Service™ spends millions of dollars to replace old or “lost” MTE. While MTE does have a lifespan, we can help extend its useable life by protecting MTE from mistreatment or improper staging. Exposing MTE to the elements (direct sunlight, rain, etc.) can shorten its life considerably. Cardboard MTE exposed to water (rain or snow) will be damaged beyond use. Plastic MTE with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will begin to deteriorate. And, of course, improper staging or misuse of MTE can result in severe damage to the equipment or more importantly, to individuals handling the MTE.
One of the biggest benefits we gain from MTE the Postal Service purchases is its reuse. By circulating MTE through the postal network, we save on costs. To support this process, the Mail Transport Equipment Service Centers (MTESCs) were created to collect, prepare, and store MTE. There are 15 centers across the country, each serving specific geographical areas. When plants have excess MTE, it is sent to the center for use in other plants. When plants need MTE, they can request it from the center. The centers also provide MTE to some of our largest customers in the mailing industry. They, in turn, prepare mailings using our equipment to ease its entry into the postal network.
To support all customers, it is important that every individual using MTE follow some simple rules:
- Remove labels from MTE. Old labels in trays and sacks can result in misdirected mail. Since MTE is also shared with the mailing industry, this can cost mailers time and effort.
- Stack MTE based on type. Trays and tubs cannot be used on the same equipment, so keep them separate. Keep the three different sizes of trays (MM, EMM, and Half) separate as well. For flat tubs, keep the plastic and cardboard tubs separate.
- Store sacks flat. Do not stuff sacks (known as bumming) one inside the other. This can cause premature aging of the sack and can hide mail.
On a final note, the most critical thing we can do is to keep MTE moving. Do not store excess MTE in trailers or basements. Mailers should not “over order” MTE. Sites with more MTE than necessary can keep other mail preparation centers, sometimes even in the same company, from having the materials they need. Anyone with excess MTE (more than a one week supply) should make arrangements to return it to the closest MTESC. This will not only save the Postal Service from needlessly replacing MTE, but will also help us to keep moving the mail.
Anyone with excess MTE can call the MTE hotline at 866-330-3404 or send an email to HQMTE@usps.gov.