A USPS Development that Is Truly Progressive: Carbon Calculations for Your Mail

While the nation’s postal-related headlines are dominated by USPS plans to optimize (consolidate) its mail processing network and to slash costs during the next three years as it fights for financial sustainability, a less known development is a new USPS service on behalf of postal customers that is truly insightful—and free of charge—and about to launch early next year, subject to some final testing.

While the nation’s postal-related headlines are dominated by USPS plans to optimize (consolidate) its mail processing network and to slash costs during the next three years as it fights for financial sustainability, a less known development is a new USPS service on behalf of postal customers that is truly insightful—and free of charge—and about to launch early next year, subject to some final testing.

Beginning 2012, mailers will be able to secure from the USPS a “carbon impact calculation” for their mail across various USPS products and classes, with the potential to purchase carbon offsets, too. Essentially, the calculation is the amount of carbon released in the atmosphere as a result of an organization’s mail being in the domain of the USPS delivery infrastructure. The program was piloted earlier this year with business customers enrolled with the Postal Service’s Electronic Verification System (eVS) for Domestic Competitive categories and is set to be extended to PostalOne! participants and all postal products shortly.

Why is this noteworthy?

Many of the world’s leading brands and global enterprises—among them U.S. companies and household names—participate in a global transparency effort called the Carbon Disclosure Project. Many more seek to establish their carbon footprint as they participate in global carbon-trading schemes, designed to lessen greenhouse gases thought to be associated with global warming.

While the United States has yet to adopt formal national goals for carbon reduction for its part in the global economy, many brands that are either (1) global players or (2) environmentally sensitive or (3) both are already doing so in their own operations. These enterprises are acknowledging that managing carbon is a business-smart way to reduce waste and pollution and to optimize efficiency, while no doubt burnishing their own brand credentials. Sustainability isn’t a feel-good pursuit, it’s about the bottom line and intelligent materials management.

[Note: California—the U.S.’s largest state economy—has adopted carbon reduction goals as a matter of policy and practice.]

The USPS needs to be lauded here. Already, the USPS has conducted a lifecycle inventory regarding the delivery of the nation’s mail, and has adopted aggressive waste reduction and recycling goals in its own operations—all in a bid to increase efficiency and revenue. It knows, more or less, the carbon footprint of each class of mail and is ready to share such information with its customers in a true “value-add” function that is specific to each customer’s own use of the mail. Carbon calculations can be retrieved by month, by quarter and by year, or on an ad hoc reporting basis as requested by a customer.

To take advantage of the carbon calculation offer, mailers might look for an official announcement from the USPS at some point early next year, once final testing is completed on eVS and PostalOne!

By knowing the carbon footprint of their mailings, brands and companies that participate in carbon markets can derive more accurate readings of the direct mail portion of their marketing and operations activity.

Maybe then they can start tackling an even harder subject for direct marketers—how to reduce the carbon impact of their data centers and digital marketing.

Helpful Links
USPS 2010 Sustainability Report (see page 37)

Environmental Leader: Most Climate-Responsible Companies Revealed for 2011

Huffington Post: California’s Drastic Carbon Reduction Goals are Achievable, Study Says

Direct Marketing Association: USPS Releases Report on Life Cycle Inventory of the Mail

USPS Sustainability Efforts

USPS Carbon Accounting Pilot

Carbon Disclosure Project

Jonathan Salem Baskin, Author of “Branding Only Works on Cattle,” to Keynote InterACT!

I wanted to let you in on some exciting news: Jonathan Salem Baskin, author of “Branding Only Works on Cattle” and “Bright Lights and Dim Bulbs”, and CMO strategy columnist for Ad Age, has just be named the opening keynote speaker for the InterACT! conference, an educational forum for marketers, brand owners and service providers on cross-media direct marketing opportunities and strategies.

I wanted to let you in on some exciting news: Jonathan Salem Baskin, author of “Branding Only Works on Cattle” and “Bright Lights and Dim Bulbs”, and CMO strategy columnist for Ad Age, has just be named the opening keynote speaker for the InterACT! conference, an educational forum for marketers, brand owners and service providers on cross-media direct marketing opportunities and strategies.

In his presentation, called “David Ogilvy’s Revenge: The Return of Marketing Realism,” Baskin will offer InterACT! attendees a big-picture perspective on the marketing realism emerging from the convergence of new and old media, and what the opportunities will be in 2011.

Baskin, who has been called “a merry iconoclast,” “lucid and cutting,” “groundbreaking” and “the new bad boy of branding,” looks beyond the
gimmicks and hype to uncover what really works when communicating with the marketplace. Currently, Baskin wears multiple hats as a global brand strategist, leading a global network of partner companies in The Baskinbrand Alliance and managing North American business for the global marketing consultancy Futurelab. Along with his books and columns, he also writes the popular blog Dim Bulb, co-hosts a regular podcast, Socializing Media, and is a member of the board of advisors for Social Media Today.

InterACT! is a two-day, two-track program designed for marketers, agencies and custom publishers, as well as print/marketing service providers interested in improving how they interact with customers and prospects. It’s the first event that will demonstrate how to integrate print, online, mobile and social media to deliver interactive marketing campaigns that drive business results. The event is scheduled for August 10-11 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill.

To follow InterACT! on Twitter, visit: http://twitter.com/Interact_Forum.

To register, click here: http://bit.ly/InterACT_LinkedIn_MC.

Hope to see you all there!