Making Mail More Sustainable

With more than 36,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 10,000 faculty and staff personnel at NC State University, Campus Mail Services has its hands full with thousands of pieces of mail to sort and distribute across campus on a daily basis. 

“We pride ourselves on being one of the few departments on campus that interacts with every single department on campus every single day,” said Amanda Franklin, who leads Mail Services.

Mail Services’ team goals are safety, service, security and sustainability. They recycle tons of unsolicited mail pieces annually and are also instituting measures to ensure this material doesn’t reach campus in the first place.

Mail Services is integrating sustainability as part of their efforts to provide excellent customer service across campus. Through a partnership with Waste-Free Mail, unwanted mail is being reduced by cutting off junk mail at the source. 

One of the ways Waste-Free Mail reduces waste is by only accepting mail from verified senders who must submit their recipient list to Mail Services before the mail is sent to the university.

“Then I can confirm yes, that person still works on campus and this is their correct campus box and, if not, we cut them off of the list and whatever publication the company is sending out is never printed to begin with,” Franklin said.

Recently, Mail Services received Waste-Free Mail’s Sustainability Scorecard, which indicated more than 18,800 trees have been saved from being cut down for printed materials.

The printed materials are not the only resource Mail Services is attempting to save through sustainable practices. Based on mail drop off and pick up schedules, Franklin and her team work to ensure they are using fuel-efficient paths on their routes. Additionally, since incorrect mailing addresses are corrected before the mail is delivered, fuel usage is reduced by avoiding the need to redeliver incorrectly addressed mail to a different address. 

Mail Services has expanded their waste reduction efforts over the last six months, too. They save packaging materials, such as cardboard and bubble wrap, that can be reused for outgoing campus packages. They also recycle the plastic film that wraps large, incoming pallets of packages. 

Mail Services is also exploring how to leverage their existing delivery and pickup routes for additional sustainability impact. For example, Mail services has worked with the Materials Management Warehouse to transport materials such as light bulbs and scrap metal to the campus Dearstyne Convenience Site for recycling. This maximizes their routes while ensuring recyclable materials are delivered to the correct site and saves other employees from making extra trips to the convenience site.

“It’s fuel efficient and time efficient and helps divert waste from the landfill,” Franklin said.