Creating a Green Mail Center… on a Budget!

There are lots of ways you can make your mail center more environmentally friendly.

Print and mail center managers across the country often fail to see opportunities in their shops that can make a big difference in their overall environmental footprint. Interestingly, once they are identified most environmental strategies can be implemented with little to no capital expenditure. In fact, these strategies often result in a reduction in cost along with a reduction in environmental impact.

Plus, environmental improvements in the mail are highly visible. Your mail becomes a repetitive reinforcement of your company’s green policies. There is a high PR value to these types of projects.

What is Your Budget?

Almost every print/mail operations manager is dealing with budget constraints. In a lot of cases, the money they can spend this year is less than they had last year – and their expenses are going up! Getting any kind of budget for making environmental improvements can be a challenge.

Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do that will help the environment without spending much money. The trick is being able to identify the opportunities, quantify the benefits, and then coordinate the efforts of various departments to get the necessary changes made and tested.

How Can We “Green Up” at Low Cost?

In most mail center operations, potential environmental savings can be broken down into 4 major categories:

  • Improving the deliverability of the mail
  • Reducing the number of mail pieces
  • Lowering the consumption of paper
  • Decreasing the consumption of envelopes


These categories are important because they are areas where the document operations managers have a high degree of control. You’ll get quicker results and accurately measured effects if you concentrate on your own areas of influence.

There are dozens of strategies that can be applied within those four categories. Some will be effective for your particular operation and others will not. It depends on lots of variables such as the types of documents you produce, your current practices, processing volumes and schedules, document design, regulatory and legal constraints, and the tools you already have or can acquire.

Some of the easiest process modifications can yield big payoffs. Companies have been known to reduce page counts and paper consumption by simply adjusting margins or font sizes. Others have stopped including remittance envelopes for customers who typically pay electronically. Measures such as these are quick to implement, require no capital expenditure, and are especially effective in showing your customers that your company is serious about environmental sustainability.

Where to Start?

Begin with a quick assessment of the jobs you’re running now. Sometimes just this exercise can be a real eye-opener. Shops are so busy getting the daily work out the door they have not taken the time to look at the operation as a whole. Taking a step back and looking at the overall operation objectively can be a challenge for in-house resources – it’s that “can’t see the forest for the trees” problem. If necessary, look for some expert and unbiased support to do an assessment and make recommendations for you.

Note that making green decisions will almost always involve business units outside of document operations. An effective and open channel of communications with the departments or customers you serve will be an asset in these efforts.</>

If your company is like most document operations, you’ll see opportunities for lowering the environmental impact of the documents you produce – without breaking the bank.