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According to the study, the life cycle of letter mail can be divided into six stages: mail design; manufacturing the writing paper and envelopes; production of the letter; distribution of the letter; use; and the disposal of the letter. All six of these stages should be examined in the calculation of mail's environmental impact.
8 FEATURE Another Reason To Support By Paul Robbertz Direct Mail— It’s Green Additional data is needed to pinpoint mail’s true environmental impact, but it’s in the range of 50 grams of CO2 per piece, according to the first study ever on the issue. The new research demonstrates that leisure and other everyday activities—watching television, taking a trip, or running a clothes dryer, dishwasher, or refrigerator—account for most of a consumers’ total carbon footprint. The Environmental Impact of Mail: A Baseline, published by Pitney Bowes, is a comprehensive review of existing or published data on the value chain of mail from a variety of sources including regulatory agencies, not-for-profits, and U.S. and international postal services. Using these sources, it establishes a baseline of mail’s environmental impact, compares it with the CO2 output of everyday human activities, and recommends a set of key “next steps” for the mailing industry to be even more environmentally responsible. This new study on mail is published at a time when all industries are under intense pressure to take more action on climate change and lessen their envi- ronmental impact. The individual impact of mail on the environment has been inflated by misguided environmentalist groups and proponents of a Do Not Mail registry, which aims to dismantle how and which types of mail are delivered to consumer’s doorsteps. The ramifications of this registry—which would eliminate approximately 8.4 million jobs nationwide and halt the $1 trillion economic activity of the mail- ing and printing industry—have not been considered. This new research by Pitney Bowes enables individuals, companies, and industry associations to have a public dialogue based on fact, rather than perception. It contributes to a centralized and standardized set of data that is necessary to calculate mail’s environmental impact. According to the study, the life cycle of letter mail can be divided into six stages: mail design; manufacturing the writing paper and envelopes; production of the letter; distribution of the letter; use; and the disposal of the letter. All six of these stages should be examined in the calculation of mail’s environmental impact. Although this study examines the CO2 emissions of mail across all six of these dimensions, the primary focus is in the fourth stage of mail’s life cycle, which is the post’s responsibility to collect, sort, and deliver mail to customers. There are two areas within the post’s CO2 emissions that are crucial to measur- ing and understanding their carbon footprints: facility resources, and transporta- tion resources. PRINTING NEWS, MONDAY, November 24, 2008 www.printingnews.com Facility resources include the postal retail and mail handling facilities, and sort- ing equipment, primarily in the form of heat and electricity. Transportation resources include the fuel emissions associated with the collection, inter-postal facility transportation, and final transportation to the customer. The importance of minimizing carbon emissions in these areas are reinforced as global posts are currently working toward improved efficiency in vehicle fleets and buildings. The U.S. Postal Service is also working on a comprehensive Life Cycle Inventory that will introduce new data on the carbon footprint of mail. In the study, initial estimates of CO2 per mail piece are used to compare mail with everyday household activities. How does mail stack up? Consider this: running a single refrigerator for a year is equivalent to the creation and delivery of 5,000 letters; taking a two-minute shower is equivalent to receiving 40 letters; running an electric water heater for a year is about the same as 20,000 letters
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