Post office recycling back on track
SUMMIT COUNTY – It didn’t take long to get recycling bins back in the post offices.
As signs of discontent began to rapidly swell among Summit County residents in response to a decision to remove recycling bins from local post offices, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) quickly retreated.
Citing numerous complaints from residents at local offices, press coverage and attention from Rep. Mark Udall’s office, Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro announced a decision Friday by USPS Colorado District Manager Ellis Burgoyne to allow the bins to stay.
“Basically I think we re-evaluated the participation there of the Summit County residents in the recycling (program) and realized this is an important program,” DeSarro said. “The right thing to do is continue it.”
DeSarro said policy regarding recycling had to be settled among Sheryl Wilson, the regional manager of post office operations, and local postmasters – and the bins would be put back “soon.”
However, only three will be permitted to be placed in each of Summit County’s four post offices, Wilson said, adding that the 12 recycling bins in the Frisco post office is “excessive.”
Summit Recycling Project (SRP) crews plan to replace the bins with ones with lids and slots into which people can deposit unwanted, recycleable mail. That, Wilson said, will help protect customers’ identities by making it more difficult to get credit card numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers and other vital information.
Citizens sent scores of e-mails to U.S. Rep. Mark Udall Thursday protesting the edict; he, in turn, sent a letter to the postmaster general asking for leniency in a county that has little curbside pickup and little home delivery.
Wilson said she understands the environmental concerns, although Wednesday, she said the USPS is in the business of delivering the mail – not helping people dispose of it.
“The post office is concerned about the environment,” she said. “We do support recycling, but we do have other issues we have to watch. This is a good compromise. It will keep our offices cleaner and still support the recycling.”
After planning to protest the decision on Friday, SRP organizers were exuberant that the program would remain in place.
“I think it’s great that the community responded in a positive manner to support Summit Recycling and just recycling overall,” said Kevin Berg, operations manager for Summit Recycling Project. “It would have been a huge step backwards and I’m happy the project is going to continue.”
“I think it’s just a great representation of how the community can stand up,” Berg said. “I think it’s the epitome of how government can work and listen to the citizens.”
The decision to remove the bins was made by Wilson, who said that making disposal immediately available to recipients of mass mailings did a disservice to the postal service’s business customers.
This isn’t the only issue Wilson has been addressing. She spent most of Friday with local postmasters regarding both the recycling issue and the other contentious USPS debate – who gets free post office boxes and who doesn’t.
DeSarro said Wilson was informed of the decision Friday morning and said the intention was not to undermine her authority, saying the issue of business mailings was a “good point.”
“The crux of this thing was it was very successful and the Summit County residents, it was very important to them,” he said. “That was the key to saying, “Well, let’s let the program stay.'”
In a letter to U.S. Postmaster General John Potter urging the decision’s reversal, Udall, who represents the county as part of his 2nd District, cited the program as a service to citizens provided at no cost to the postal service.
“As these bins are not a cost, maintenance or custodial burden to the post offices, I do not see why they cannot remain and continue to be of use to the public,” the Democrat wrote. “It seems to me that in the best interest of the public, the environment and the management of trash at post offices that this recycling program ought to remain as a choice for customers.”
DeSarro pointed out the recycling bins will only be returned to those offices where they were located before the decision to remove them was made. Furthermore, he said there would be restrictions on the number of bins allowed in office lobbies.
– Jane Stebbins contributed to this story.
Aidan Leonard can be reached at
(970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or
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