Published in April, 2014 issue of Bhartiya Post
By : Bruhaspati Samal
Secretary, AIPEU, Group-C, Bhubaneswar Division
When the whole earth is facing the fatal effects of Global Warming and Climate Change due to natural causes like dust particles, marsh gases, volcanic eruptions and ultra violet radiations and human activities like deforestation, consumption of fossil fuels, new forms of land use and agriculture, emission of aerosols and toxic gases from automobiles and industries resulting increase in sea level, rising ecological imbalances, increasing deforestation, frequent floods, rise in vector-borne deceases and above all increase in greenhouse gas emissions, not only individual efforts but Government and Non-Government Organizations, scientists and environmentalists all over the world are gearing up several activities to meet the challenges. Amongst various activities, celebration of Earth Day on 22nd April and World Environment Day on 5th June every year are considered very important.
As the 44th Anniversary of Earth Day approaches, people around the world are taking various steps toward protecting and preserving the environment. Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2014 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time. As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. Earth Day 2014 will seek to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities. With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people. The UN General Assembly declared 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). World Environment Day (WED) 2014 will be celebrated under the theme of SIDS, with the goal of raising awareness of their unique development challenges and successes regarding a range of environmental problems, including climate change, waste management, unsustainable consumption, degradation of natural resources, and extreme natural disasters.
While worldwide efforts are on move to protect and improve nature and stabilize emission of greenhouse gases, postal departments from across the globe are adopting best practices for minimizing their carbon footprint. Here are some examples how Posts around the world are going green to save the earth.
India Post, the world’s largest postal network having 154822 outlets has already introduced electronic solar rickshaws for postmen in India. The eco-friendly solar rickshaws are prepared by the scientists of Indian government with collaboration of IT research department and named as ‘green vehicle’. The Department, in the meantime has completed a pilot project of installing solar Power Packs in 7 postal circles.
Let’s discuss a selection of best practices from across the globe on greening the Post. While some postal operators are already aware of the importance of minimizing their carbon footprint, others are forging ahead with success.
To reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, postal operators in Germany (Deutsche Post DHL), Brazil ( Brazilian Post ), Finland ( Itella ), Tanzania ( Tanzania Post ), Hungary ( Magyar Posta ) and Slovenia ( Slovenia Post) are using either green electricity or hydro power / solar / geothermal energy and often opting for renewable energy sources. While solar collector system in Magyar Posta has cut energy consumption by 36.7 % and CO2 emissions by 13%, Itella has been able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 15%. While 25% of energy consumption in Slovenia Post comes from renewable resources all of the electricity bought and consumed by the Brazilian Post comes from hydropower plants. For last 10 years, many post offices under Tanzania Post have been using solar energy for lighting, running of computers and fax machines. Correos de El Salvador has changed 75 per cent of its incandescent tubes from 40W to 21W to reduce consumption of electricity in its buildings. Deutsche Post DHL has acquired 288 energy-efficient sorting machines which will reduce the operator’s carbon emissions by nearly 5000 tonnes per year. DHL's sites and mail processing centres are certified ISO 14001 which guarantees that the environment is respected in the daily management of the buildings. TNT opened its first CO2 emission-free depot in 2009. The adoption of sustainable solutions within this building has resulted in energy savings of more than 70%. The building is designed to allow in as much daylight as possible, reducing the amount of artificial light required, and produces its own energy through more than 300 solar panels.
Postal operators like USPS ( United States of America ), Liban Post ( Lebanon ), Swiss Post (Switzerland), JP Post ( Japan ), New Zealand Post ( New Zealand ), Maldives Post ( Maldives ), Philpost ( Philippines), BPost ( Belgium ), La Poste (France), Mauritius Post and Korea Post (Korea) etc. have already prioritized waste recycling and are offering carbon-neutral GOGREEN products . All departments at Liban Post headquarters are equipped with recycling bins to collect recyclable materials and people being more conscious of the recycling efforts and doing their share in terms of reducing waste, reusing paper and printing less, waste has fallen by 25-35% in Liban Post. Japan Post, La Poste and USPS are acting as hubs for waste collection. In 2009, 1.3 million used up ink cartridges were collected by Japan Post and sent back for recycling. In USPS Post Offices, customers can obtain free mail-back envelops for recycling inkjet cartridges, mobile phones, digital cameras and other similar small electronic items. In 2009, about 69000 kg of materials were recycled through the mail-back envelops by USPS. Maldives Post has been printing internal documents on the backside of discarded A4 sheets already used for one-sided printing. Replacing cardboard boxes, Japan Post is using a returnable packing box that can be used up to 100 times as a result of which total cost has been cut by 30-40% and CO2 generated through the process of making and disposing of cardboard boxes has been reduced by 70%.Supplying “Cradle to Cradle” certified packaging in services, USPS has ensured that a product is designed with materials that are safe for humans and the environment. Itella (Finland) aims to reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions by 30% by 2020 by improving its energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources with lower emissions in all of its operations and by offering customers carbon-neutral products by means of a carbon-offsetting scheme.
Many postal operators are also raising staff awareness and adopting campaigns for public awareness of environmental issues.”Let our beach smile” is an annual campaign designed by Morrocco Post to offer visitors clean and healthy beaches suitable for recreational activities and water sports. At Cambodia Post, awareness raising stickers are displayed in offices and toilets. In Seychelles Post, all staff are informed through office memos, flyers and posters of the need to save water and electricity. Circulars and newsletters are issued on a quarterly basis to raise staff awareness of the importance of reducing energy and water consumption. Vietnam Post takes part in Earth Hour and Environment Day campaign. TNT launched its "Planet Me" programme in 2007 to raise awareness of climate change and serve as a framework to reduce CO2 emissions. United States Postal Service employees participate in cross-functional 'Lean Green Teams', helping the USPS reduce energy and material consumption and waste emissions. This led to savings of more than 5 million USD in 2010. The teams also helped USPS recycle more than 222,000 tonnes of material, which generated 13 million USD in revenue, and saved an additional 9.1 million USD in landfill fees. USPS formed a Green Purchasing Team. The team has actively worked to educate and inform customers and suppliers about the operator's Green Purchasing Plan. In 2008, USPS spent more than 251 million USD on environmentally preferable products, including remanufactured automobile parts, retread tyres, recycled content paper products, custodial products. BPost ( Belgium) trains its van drivers to drive ecologically, which allows the operator to save 5–7% on fuel. Since 2009, Magyar Posta (Hungary ) has organized a "Green Day" conference in the field of logistics each year. During these conferences, participants can listen to talks on environmental protection and vehicle operations and on the closing day of the conference an eco-driving contest is held. A trained driver who uses an environmentally friendly driving style may reduce the fuel consumption of the vehicle by as much as 5–10%, translating into a reduction in emissions.
Several other important practices have also been adopted by the postal operators world-wide to make the posts green. At Korea Post, uniforms for mail carriers are made from recycled PET bottles. To have a significant reduction in water consumption, Philpost is in the process of replacing tank-filled valve flushing mechanisms in its toilets with more water-efficient toilets, and also introducing new taps that turn off automatically when a certain amount has been consumedTanzania Post now carries out regular emission checks and servicing of its fleet. Royal Mail has set a target of reducing transport-related CO2 emissions by 20%. Use of double decker trailers has facilitated Royal Mail to carry 50% more mail in one vehicle reducing its annual mileage by 7.6 million miles, saving 7,000 tonnes of CO2. New Zealand Post has a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 12% between 2008 and 2012. Slovenska Posta was awarded the ISO 14001 Environment Management Certificate in 2005 for its implementation and use of an environment management system. Liban Post uses small-engined motorcycles, instead of cars or vans, for mail distribution since small vehicles emit less polluting gases. VNPT (Viet Nam Post) sets fuel consumption limits for transport and electric generators. Correos (Uruguay) has followed an energy savings plan based on government directives since 2005. The plan for the head office and sorting plant calls for the almost complete replacement of incandescent and mercury vapour bulbs with low-energy bulbs. Centralizing its delivery service, reducing number of delivery offices and reducing number of routes, Mauritius Post has achieved a decrease in the mileage covered by postal vehicles and reduced fuel consumption and thus there has been a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions from its fleet. In April 2009, Norway Post's major road transport route between Oslo and Bergen became fully rail-based. As a result, a total of 1,250 trucks have been replaced by rail.La Poste (France) and USPS have added electric to their mail and parcel delivery fleet. La Poste (France) has slashed its fuel consumption, cut its CO2 emissions by 8% on average, and given 60,000 postmen and women eco-driving lessons, which. among others, have reduced the number of road accidents involving postal vehicles. A USPS building in New York has been developed with a "green roof". It reduces the amount of polluted storm water runoff into the New York municipal water system by as much as 75% in the summer and 40% in the winter. The green roof is more energy-efficient than a traditional roof and is projected to save the operator 30,000 USD on annual heating and cooling costs.
Post Denmark has a tool for optimizing route planning in the countryside and in towns which limits the number of kilometres driven according to pre-specified estimates. In 2009, Canada Post registered three new building projects for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance and environment-conscious buildings. Building to LEED Canada criteria helps Canada Post reduce GHG emissions, lower overall energy costs, and reduce its impact on the environment. It also benefits its employees and its customers by providing safer and healthier workplaces. Togo Post is looking to operate solely on solar energy. Magya Posta has used solar energy in its national logistics centre since the end of 2008 which has cut energy consumption by 36.7% and CO2 emissions by 13%. In 2009, Magyar Posta saved about 20,000 kWh by using solar energy. Plastic re-usable envelopes, which can be used at least 15 times are being used by Liban Post, with a positive impact in environmental and budgetary terms. Swiss Post enables letters, parcels and goods to be mailed on a carbon-neutral basis through its "Pro clima" scheme.
Since July 2009, Australia Post has stopped providing plastic bags for its customers. People are encouraged to use their own reusable bags and most post offices sell environmentally-friendly reusable bags. There has been a reduction in the Uruguayan postal operator's use of nylon bags. In 2008, it decided to implement a policy to phase out the use of nylon bags in making up items to be sent to business customers.
Thus, in this context, it can be said that Global Warming which has been building momentum for about 150 years can’t stop within a day. Nobel laureate Al Gore has rightly said , “It will be hard. Not rising to the challenge would be much harder. Still I believe that we should see the opportunity, rise to meet it and keep our sights on the obligation that we have for those who come after so that a thousand years from now people will say they are the ones who did it.” Finally, it would be apt to quote Leo Tolstoy, “Everyone things of changing the world but no one is thinking of changing himself.” Thus, the need of the hour is to change ourselves and rise to the occasion to focus towards a sustainable development for solving the pace of Global warming and who knows, we may not only save the planet, but live long enough, perhaps for some future generations to thank us.