The Vineyard Haven Post Office has removed blue recycling bins for customers, and will no longer recycle customers’ mail.
The ban was put into place because “people were bringing stuff from home,” Steve Doherty, a communications specialist for the United States Post Office, told The Times. “We’re not equipped for people to be bringing stuff from home like we’re a recycling center.”
Doherty said Post Offices will still recycle their own mail internally, but will no longer recycle customers’ mail. He said Post Offices were being incorrectly labeled as recycling centers, “because of some stuff erroneously posted online.”
Vineyard Haven joins Edgartown as the only Island Post Offices that no longer have recycling bins for customers. Chilmark, West Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs all have blue bins for customer recycling; Aquinnah does not have a Post Office.
Doherty said the removal of blue bins at Post Offices is on a “case by case basis,” and that postmasters make the final decision on whether to have blue bins available. In the case of the Vineyard Haven Post Office, “the bins that were removed from the lobby were because some customers were treating the Post Office as a recycling drop-off point,” Doherty said in an email to the Times. “No other Post Offices plan to remove the bins at this time, but reserve the right to do so.” Individual postmasters directed inquiries by The Times to Doherty.
While Edgartown removed its bins with little fanfare, social media has been buzzing with backlash from the recent change in Vineyard Haven. “Full-on littering in the VH Post Office,” one post on the Islanders Talk Facebook group says, along with a picture of piled-up mail. This post in particular has accrued dozens of comments, voicing outrage and confusion about the new policy, as well as its effects on the people who work there.
The United States Postal Service began its recycling program in 2012 as part of Earth Day. “Cardboard, mixed paper, metals, and plastics. These four materials constitute nearly 95 percent of the Postal Service waste stream, yet all of these items are 100 percent recyclable. The Postal Service needlessly spends over $49 million annually to dispose of these materials,” according to the USPS bulletin outlining the program and ways to implement recycling promotion and techniques.