Did you ever wonder what happens to mail with an illegible address or that’s sent to someone who no longer lives at the address? The U.S. Postal Service refers to this mail as undeliverable as addressed, or UAA mail. What happens next depends on how the mail was sent, such as the mail class and what services were paid for. It could be forwarded, returned to sender, or treated as waste.
While returning the mail to senders allows them to update the addresses, it is costly and inconvenient to both the Postal Service and the mailer. To save costs and be more environmentally friendly, the Postal Service developed the Secure Destruction Program in 2014. In fact, the Secure Destruction Program is one of the Postal Service’s key environmental sustainability initiatives. So how does it work? For participating commercial mailers, USPS securely shreds and recycles UAA First-Class letters and flats at postal facilities. Mailers receive electronic data about which mailpieces were destroyed, so the mailers still know which addresses need to be updated.
In a recent audit, we looked at the effectiveness of the Secure Destruction Program and found opportunities to enhance the program. For example, we identified shortcomings in the tracking and reporting of key workhour, revenue, and volume metrics. We also found the Postal Service should do more to market and promote this program. In fact, only six of the 25 program participants who responded to our survey thought favorably of the Postal Service’s marketing. Improved marketing could lead to more participants, increasing both cost savings and revenue generation.