The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) had a goal of establishing recycling programs for undeliverable bulk business mail (UBBM) in all of their post offices, nationwide. The effort was complicated, however, by a lack of familiarity with UBBM within the paper industry, and by a lack of understanding of recovered paper markets by USPS. To help bridge this information gap, and to encourage the development of infrastructure to recycled both UBBM and other mixed grades of recovered paper, NERC co-sponsored a series of three Market Opportunity Forums in Fall 1996.
The Forums were conducted in partnership with USPS and U.S. EPA, with Roy F. Weston, Inc. providing technical consulting assistance. Each of the three forums brought together approximately 50–70 USPS staff, paper stock dealers, mill representatives and other market stakeholders involved in paper recycling in each area. The events were successful in assisting USPS with retaining and expanding recycling levels during a marked downturn in the market for mixed paper and enabled USPS facility managers to be more effective players in the recovered paper marketplace. USPS officials reported that increased knowledge of the processor and mill marketing preferences influenced them to be more flexible in their contracting for services. The forums also served to provide information to USPS officials on successfully operating stable recycling programs in a volatile and dynamic recovered paper marketplace. EPA funding for the Forums was provided through the Jobs Through Recycling Initiative.
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