October is Energy Action Month, which is a time to remind Postal Service™ employees and customers to commit to action, conserve energy, and promote efficiency. On Thursday, October 24, 2019, the United States Postal Service® will have an Energy Action Month event at Headquarters in Washington, DC, in the Hall of Flags, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our theme for this event is “Change Starts with You — Sustainable Practices Benefit All of Us.”
The Postal Service is committed to being a sustainability leader. This is not just a mission statement, but a sincere commitment to save energy and reduce our impact on the environment. The Postal Service has a rich history of setting goals to reduce our impact, even if we know our goals can’t be achieved in a day. With concentrated effort, the Postal Service is making a difference and working hard to help care for the world we share. Our goal is to integrate environmentally-responsible business practices into daily operations and provide products and services that help our customers achieve their own sustainability objectives.
Working together, our efforts have yielded significant cost-savings as we reduce the pollution emitted from non-renewable sources of energy. The Postal Service reduced facility energy consumption by more than 30 percent during the past decade. We have also reduced greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, and inspired our employees to get involved through Lean Green teams that seek new ways to cut waste, save energy, and become more sustainable. Additionally, the Postal Service is investing in updates to our facility lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. With the successful installation of 35,000 solar panels at the Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center, we are moving forward with four more renewable energy installations in New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC. We continue to look for innovative technologies, such as our zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) system at the Washington Network Distribution Center in Capitol Heights, MD, used for our powered industrial vehicles.
Our national recycling operation standardized our trash removal processes and recycling efforts through backhauling recyclables to plants and hubs for consolidation. At the end of fiscal year 2018, we achieved a 51.7 percent diversion rate of solid waste from landfill to recycling. In addition to being good for the environment, this allows us to reduce trash disposal costs by reducing trash pickup frequency and the size of trash containers.
The Postal Service has also made it easy for federal agencies and their employees to recycle old electronics and printer cartridges through participation in the USPS BlueEarth® Federal Recycling Program. Additionally, our USPS BlueEarth Secure Destruction Program is an opt-in service for large mailers that securely shreds and recycles undeliverable-as-addressed First-Class Mail® with personal protected information that would otherwise be returned to the sender. These programs help reduce landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions by reducing environmental impact to the overall mailstream. Working with Supply Management, the Postal Service has a continued focus on buying environmentally preferable products and services from our suppliers.
We conduct environmental compliance reviews annually to ensure that our high-risk facilities meet or exceed environmental standards. Our underground storage tank program addresses environmental risk to the Postal Service. We continuously monitor, inspect, and test tanks, and remove and replace any that pose a liability. The Postal Service has a zero-discharge policy to reduce pollution in stormwater. Additionally, we continuously review our waste generation processes and identify opportunities for the reduction and elimination of hazardous wastes.
Thank you for your continued efforts to save energy as we all work to be good stewards of the world we share. I look forward to celebrating our past successes and working together on future sustainable initiatives this Energy Action Month.
USPS Chief Sustainability Officer