In an unabashed example of creative reinterpretation, the Postal Service has reframed the ongoing changes to its processing and transportation networks as initiatives designed to reduce its carbon footprint.

In a lengthy Industry Alert issued February 6, the agency asserted that the environmental benefits flow from elements of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-Year Plan, repeating some of his stock criticisms of past management:

“Reduce our regional and local network transportation by at least $2.5 billion by aggregating volume in fewer facilities, moving mail and packages regionally in an integrated manner eliminating thousands of trips each day and using less air transportation.

“Reduce our processing, distribution, and delivery costs by at least $2.5 billion by insourcing previously outsourced operations, consolidating operations out of random buildings, modernizing facilities, reorganizing operating plans and schedules, adding more sortation equipment, and improving operating tactics to increase throughput, gain productivity and increase asset utilization.

“All of these initiatives will significantly reduce carbon emissions by eliminating wasteful and unnecessary operating activities that have been deployed for almost two decades.”

The release quoted Jennifer Beiro-Réveillé, senior director of environmental affairs and corporate sustainability and an ardent advocate of DeJoy’s Plan:

“Our customers and partners expect the Postal Service to be efficient and environmentally responsible and I’m proud that our leadership team has developed meaningful sustainability goals and aligned them with our operational efficiency, service improvement, and revenue growth initiatives. These new targets help advance our commitment to being the greenest way for customers to mail and ship across the country.”


In describing actions being taken to reduce costs or rework its networks, the Postal Service listed them instead as initiatives to reduce environmental impacts:

“The Postal Service is reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the organization by moving freight from air to ground transportation, optimizing delivery routes for trucks and carriers, and procuring reduced-emission and zero-emission vehicles. By fiscal year 2030, USPS seeks to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 40% [and] reduce Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.”

The announcement included measures aimed at “strengthening the circular economy,” aiming by 2030 to “divert 75% of waste from landfills; increase recycled content of packaging to 74%; increase package recyclability to 88%; [and] increase renewable energy use to 10%.”

Seeking to appear as an environmental leader, the notice stated that “throughout its work to create a greener Postal Service, the organization will continue to educate its 640,000 employees, local communities and federal, state and local partners on its progress.” In other words, the agency will continue to claim that actions being taken for operational or financial reasons are actually motivated by its dedication to environmental concerns. Presumably, while the USPS is trumpeting its “rollout of the nation’s largest electric vehicle fleet,” no one is supposed to remember that DeJoy resisted purchasing more than 10% electric vehicles as part of the fleet replacing its aging LLV delivery vehicles, that he upped that proportion after he was broadly criticized by environmentalists, that the agency’s environmental impact statement had to be rewritten, and that DeJoy enthused about a higher proportion of EVs only after Congress appropriated billions to pay for them.


Merriam-Webster defines greenwashing as “the act or practice of making a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is.”

In this case, DeJoy has heretofore been pursuing changes in the transportation and processing networks as cost reduction or “efficiency” measures. Service standards were reduced to enable less costly ground (vs air) transportation, trips were reduced to improve vehicle utilization, and the recently-introduced “Optimized Delivery” program was developed to reduce trips to smaller post offices and enable replacement of contracted transportation with unionized postal employees.

Obviously, reducing service enables reductions in related processing and transportation which, in turn, means less vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. However, spinning such actions as designed to provide environmental benefits is cynical and disingenuous, if not downright false.

When the USPS filed to reduce service standards for First-Class Mail and some Periodicals, the lead reasons for its action were to reduce unnecessary transportation, move mail out of airplanes and onto trucks, eliminate trips that were less than full (though “full” was never defined), and enable changes to processing schedules. Reducing the postal carbon footprint wasn’t a topic.

Similarly, establishing a revised processing network of regional and local processing centers, closing annexes, and setting up sort and delivery centers was overtly motivated by the replacement of outmoded facilities, establishment of a more “efficient” mailflow, and concentrating carriers at a place where parcel sorting equipment would be available. Environmental purposes were never featured.

Moreover, the S&DCs have been widely suspected as resulting in more driving and requiring more routes (and trucks) to deliver to the same number of addresses – hardly an environmentally-friendly outcome.

As a result, the Postal Service’s February 6 anointment of the PMG’s 10-Year Plan as designed to reduce the agency’s carbon footprint is laughably contrived. Essentially asserting that the USPS is reducing service so it can be good to the environment is transparently disingenuous. But such spin is typical of an organization whose leader prefers to revise the agency’s situation to create his own alternative reality.

Leo Raymond is owner and managing director, Mailers Hub.

This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2024 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.