MAR 18

Recycling by Mail: Free, Fast and Easy

Written by on March 18, 2008

Imagine a world where trash is so valuable that, instead of throwing it away, the post man comes and picks it up from your doorstep and whisks it off to some exotic location to be re-used, re-purposed or recycled.

Well, that day may actually be here. Except, instead of any old trash…it’s only small electronic gadgets and printer cartridges.

The U.S. Postal Service recently decided that they were going to house a new kind of recycling center. They’ve teamed up with CORE Recycling Concepts (part of Clover Technologies.) by placing free mailers in over 1,500 post offices. The Postal Service is asking people to put their electronic "trash" into the mailers. The post office then pays shipping to Clover’s sorting centers. Once there, the items are sorted, and then either sold to companies that can use them, or recycled.

The project is centered on a few large cities right now. But if Clover can make enough money, and pay the Post Office back for it’s trouble, they could expand the program nationally in the fall.  Here’s hoping!

Check out the full press release after the jump.

Via Computer World

U.S. Postal Service Starts Service in 1,500 Post Offices

WASHINGTON, March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Free and green. Those are the goals of a pilot program launched today by the U.S. Postal Service that allows customers to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge.

The "Mail Back" program helps consumers make more environmentally friendly choices, making it easier for customers to discard used or obsolete small electronics in an environmentally responsible way. Customers use free envelopes found in 1,500 Post Offices to mail back inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players – without having to pay for postage.

Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a nationally recognized company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover Technologies Group has a "zero waste to landfill" policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.

It was this philosophy that won Clover the contract with the Postal Service, besting 19 other companies, said Anita Bizzotto, chief marketing officer and executive vice president for the Postal Service.

"As one of the nation’s leading corporate citizens, the Postal Service is committed to environmental stewardship," Bizzotto said. "This program is one more way the Postal Service is empowering consumers to go green."

The free, postage-paid Mail Back envelopes can be found on displays in Post Office lobbies. There is no limit to the number of envelopes customers may take.

The pilot is set for 10 areas across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, but could become a national program this fall if the pilot program proves successful.

The Postal Service recycles 1 million tons of paper, plastic and other materials annually. Last year, USPS generated more than $7.5 million in savings through recycling and waste prevention programs. The nation’s environmental watchdog, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the Postal Service eight WasteWise Partner of the Year awards, the agency’s top honor.

The Mail Back program is another example of the Postal Service’s commitment to sustainability. USPS is the only shipping or mailing company in the nation to receive Cradle to CradleSM Certification from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for human and environmental health. More than half a billion packages and envelopes provided by the Postal Service annually are nearly 100 percent recyclable and are produced with the least harmful materials. Based on the recycled content of these envelopes and packages, more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions (climate change gases) now are prevented annually.

"We know our customers are interested in real solutions for proper disposal of personal electronics," Bizzotto said. "Everyone from consumers to businesses to non-profit organizations use the mail, and the Postal Service works to manage resources wisely to minimize environmental impact."

Please Note: For broadcast quality video and audio, photo stills and other media resources, visit the USPS Newsroom at

An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that visits every address in the nation – 146 million homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail.

Founded in 1996 in Ottawa, Illinois, Clover Technologies Group has rapidly grown into the global leader in the collection, remanufacturing and resale of small electronic assets, laser cartridges, and inkjet cartridges. Clover Technologies Group has spent many years on the Inc. 500 list for the Fastest Growing Private Companies and has achieved a 384% compounded annual growth rate over the past 4 years. In 2005, the founders of Clover Technologies won the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award. Globally, Clover has 15 facilities and more than 2,000 employees.



11 Responses to “Recycling by Mail: Free, Fast and Easy”

  1. Janet says:

    And where are they sending all this stuff????who can tell us?>:(

  2. Sharon S. says:

    OOPs, correction on question. “The only question I have is where are they sending all this stuff”.

  3. Sharon S. says:

    Where does it all Go?
    The only question I have is where is a where are they sending all this stuff? Is it going to a 3rd world country where it ends up in a pile? I don’t want to add to that pile.

    I know that has happened and I don’t want to add to it.
    I’ve got the Post Office mailers sitting here but hesitate to use them. I can’t find out where the stuff is sent.

  4. Star Carlton says:

    Recycle This!
    Funny how the post office does not have a recycle bin for – are you ready – here goes — PAPER.

    The garbage can outside of my local post office is always full of boxes and peoples mail. Think of how much papaer goes through the post office everyday that could be recycled. I have been trying to contact my state reps about this – but everyone redirects me somewhere else.

  5. Roz says:

    Where YOU can recycle
    Local Recycling
    Enter your zip code and what you’re looking to recycle.

    Bob- maybe you can take your old PC parts to Staples?

    Computer and Technology Recycling-
    Staples makes it easy for customers to recycle e–waste by simply bringing their used computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all–in–ones to any U.S. Staples store.

  6. Karsten says:

    Having the cake and eating it
    Continuously becoming obsolete and replaced personal electronic devices are an example of a wasteful life style. There are of course other products that are also good examples. Sports equipment comes to mind. Clothing. Cars. All those products that make living more fun once it has become so easy that it is boring without them. Viewed on a global scale this is luxury and few people can afford it. Overconsumption results, by the very nature of the thing, in waste.

    What it comes down to is that you cannot live a wasteful life and avoid waste at the same time. If waste is to be avoided, a wasteful lifestyle has to be abolished as well. If ending the waste of resources and energy is your goal, constantly replacing products that are way beyond what is necessary will not happen on a global scale. To use a metaphor: If the radiators in your house run too hot you do not try to recapture the heat that escapes though the opened windows. You turn down the heat.

    Waste is a symptom of a wasteful lifestyle. If you do not change the lifestyle you change nothing.

    Of course recycling does and will happen more. It makes sense in many ways and it certainly is PERCEIVED as a great solution to so many problems. It does not always save energy or avoid pollution though. That depends entirely on the material. While dumping stuff in a hole in the ground is not desirable, recycling CERTAIN materials requires more energy than just dumping the stuff. You cannot even say with certainly that recycling is less energy intense than mining new materials. Curbside recycling is a rather inefficient procedure. Saying that something can be recycled is as good as saying that something is edible. It does not mean it should be done. It is just not that simple. It is presented a that simple though. Recycling is an industry with a vested interest in making profits.

    BTW, the corporations make stuff because you buy and consume it. If they cannot sell it it will stop. Don’t blame your consumption habits on those who supply you with the products. The problem is the happy-to-comply consumer.


  7. Carl Foner says:

    Good Idea
    This is great news. Making electronics recycling easy is one of the most important things in having it be widely accepted. Rather than shipping it across the country, it would be even better if there were local recycling centers. But this is a good start.

    BTW, there are already a lot of options for this. For electronics, places such as MyBoneYard do the same thing, and you might even get a few bucks out of it. You can also keep it local and try Freecycle or Craigslist. For printer cartridges try your local Cartridge World. To find other places to responsibly recycle the items near you, try Earth911.

    It would be great if we stopped buying things we didn’t need. There needs to be consumer education on this point. But in the meantime, it makes sense to remove as much equipment as possible from the waste stream and reuse and recycle it. Also, recycling the items – rather than having to mine the raw materials, refine them, etc. – actually saves energy.

  8. Magnulus says:

    As far as consuming less, that’s not going to happen very soon with the corporations and producers of Stuff being very good at impressing upon people the importance of using more Stuff and getting new Stuff. In the face of this opposition, you need to try to find ways to help the environment that coincides with the way people are thinking.

    Yeah, in an ideal world, we would be able to influence everyone in a heartbeat and we’d all live in peace on an unpolluted planet, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes you have to work with the system instead of against it, and while the rampant consumerism is bad for the planet, recycling their stuff when it’s obsolete or it breaks is better than chucking it in the trash, no?

    Also: No one is claiming that this is the only thing being done to help the planet. This is but one small cog in the entire machinery, but you’re attacking it as if this is what everyone’s focused on.

  9. Karsten says:

    Gadgets more valuable than fuel?
    While I appreciate every effort made to reduce the post-consumer waste stream, I have a really hard time with efforts that encourage (or force) the consumer to create waste in the first place. Post-consumer recycling is important but a dangerous concept if consumers do not radically reduce consuming. While recycling is a solution in an emergency, it has turned into a systematic method of ensuring continued economical growth without looking wasteful on the surface. The consumers happily go along. Any product will be recyclable. That does not mean it should be produced or used or even recycled.

    I do not know if there is a real solution to consumer electronics since they become obsolete so fast and turn into useless mixes of toxic waste and valuable materials. Living a life without the gadgets is definitely “greener” than the best recycling program I can imagine. Recycling is production and production pollutes and requires energy.

    A world in which our current trash turns so valuable that we do not dare throw anything out will indeed be a different world. I am afraid consumer electronics will not be part of it because trucking the stuff all over the planet to be recycled will mean using even more valuable fossil fuels for transportation. When garbage turns valuable, burning gas to transport it to recycling centers will be a last desperate effort to hold on to the few remaining useful materials. It will not be wasted on gadgets. A luxury item like a short-lived personal electronic device will not likely be used by the masses in a world where energy is rare and expensive. Energy will be needed for more essential tasks. The time to play is coming to an end.

    Unless of course, you assume that only a few will have this pleasure at the expense of the majority on this planet. But I think we tried that already.

    As always positive,
    Living on Earth:
    Sufficient resources – Wasteful existence – 6.5 Billion humans; Preserve two and abandon the third.

  10. Magnulus says:

    I wonder what would happen if they introduced this in the UK. It seems as though it’s about to collapse as it is already. ^_^

  11. bob says:

    Wonder what cities are involved in the p
    I have a pile of old computer parts that I’d love to get rid of – I’ve been building my own machines for 20 years now. I’ve looked, but I can’t find the 10 cities that are part of the pilot – the USPS site only has the same press release, and it only lists the 4 cities above – Wash DC, San Diego, Chicago, and LA. If they have one in Philly, I’m there tomorrow!