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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States Postal Service will begin using packaging made with recycled materials and take other steps to reduce its impact on the environment, Postmaster General John Potter said on Wednesday.
"In our small way we're making the world a better place," he said as the Postal Service introduced the new packaging.
Potter said the new environmentally-friendly supplies will be used by each post office once they have exhausted their current inventories.
Each year, the Postal Service hands out 500 million envelopes and boxes for its Priority and Express mail, its fastest delivery options.
By making those packages with recycled materials and using less ink and more biodegradable adhesives, the service hopes to keep more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change, out of the air.
The materials are also 100 percent recyclable.
"The only thing that's distinguishable is that our colors are less bright and we use less ink," Potter said of the mailers, which have deep blue bands and the white profile of an eagle.
The new packages will have simple blue stripes for Priority Mail and orange-red ones for Express.
The Postal Service spends about $100 million a year on packaging for the two classes of mail, Potter said. The new materials will cost the same and remain free for customers.
Also, the service will allow the same packaging to be used internationally.
The redesign has been two years in the making, said spokeswoman Joanne Veto, because the service had to work with its 200 suppliers to change their manufacturing practices.