Postal Service evicts recycling bins
SUMMIT COUNTY – Recycling bins are being evicted from local post offices because the mass mailing industry believes if people can’t recycle at the post office, they will take junk mail home and maybe read it.
Trash cans will still be available and their contents taken to the Summit County Landfill.
Kevin Berg, operations manager for the Summit Recycling Project (SRP), said the mass mailing industry is partially responsible for the edict to help improve junk mail readership.
According to Berg,
Longmont-based postal service district operations manager Cheryl Wilson said mass mailing makes up about 85 percent of the postal service’s revenue.
And officials in that industry don’t want people discarding their flyers, solicitations and advertisements. Wilson repeatedly told Berg that the postal service is not in the business of recycling, he said.
Wilson could not be reached for comment.
“They say we should have never been recycling in post offices,” Berg said. “But it started years ago out of the goodness of our hearts because we realized how much stuff was being thrown away.”
Berg said SRP believes it has to make recycling convenient for people to take the extra step – especially since Summit’s program is voluntary.
Berg doesn’t think people will start taking their junk mail home.
“I told them, “The minute we take those bins out of there, those (mailers) are going to be your trash,'” he said. “At the Frisco Post Office, they have three trash cans. We have 12 recycling bins. We pick them up three times a week, and they’re pretty full every day we do that.”
Berg said that with recycling bins removed, the trash cans will fill up four times as fast.
“Local postal service workers are going to feel the fallout. It’s much more important to recycle it,” Berg said.
Additionally, people have come to expect recycling services, he said.
“Now they’re asking people to take it home, store it, load it back up in the car and bring it to us,” Berg said. “For the dedicated person, it’ll happen. But when you have a program like this in place for years and years, most people aren’t going to take the initiative.”
The transformation of recyclables to trash, however, won’t impact the landfill too much, said Ric Pocius, who oversees operations there.
Berg estimates that some 157 tons of recyclable materials that originate in Summit County’s post offices are diverted from the landfill each year.
“Even 200 tons is only one days’ worth of trash, so in the big picture, this year, that’s a .04 percent increase,” Pocius said. “It’s not a big deal; the big deal is the principle.”
Local postmasters, however, don’t think the change is a big deal.
“I don’t think it should be too big of an issue,” said Frisco Postmaster Terry McGeehan. “They’ll (customers) probably be a little upset – any time anyone changes anything, people get used to it. I think after awhile it’ll be fine.”
He and Linda Sanfilippo, Breckenridge’s postmaster, are taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding the trash issue.
“I look at it this way,” Sanfilippo said. “Customers put a lot of things in recycling bins that they don’t open. Maybe now they would take it home and open it. If customers are strong on recycling, there are locations they can take their mail to. Maybe when (trash) bins get full, people won’t put any more (recyclables) in. Hopefully the customer will understand, and they’ll go home with their mail.”
In any case, there’s little local postmasters can do. The U.S. Postal Service is a quasi-
governmental entity that can set its own rules.
“People should have the ability to recycle paper and other items they receive on a day-to-day basis,” said Lawrence Pacheco, press secretary to Rep. Mark Udall, who represents Colorado. “People are capable of determining what items they want to keep and those they don’t. They should have the ability to recycle them.”
“We are not forcing this on the community,” Berg said of the recycling effort. “The citizens of this community are demanding and expecting this service, and we’re providing it for free because we see the problem in not doing it. We’re just answering the call of the people, and they’re not serving them better by telling us to leave.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or email@example.com.
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