Summer Recap | University takes junk out of dorm mail

· September 9, 2009, 1:16 am   ·  Updated September 3, 2009, 12:00 am

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In a move to increase sustainability efforts at Penn, the University's Mail Services will no longer accept unsolicited mail from the U.S. Postal Service for redistribution to the college houses.

Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger said the decision is a way to effectively reduce paper waste and promote better recycling.

Since 2007, Penn Mail Services has recycled "no value" mail, which is addressed to "occupant" or "resident," according to Lea-Kruger. About 35 percent of mail delivered to Penn each week falls into this category.

With the implementation of this new policy, the U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering this mail altogether, "rather than deliver mail that is going to be returned directly to Mail Services for recycling - or in some cases just thrown in the trash," Lea-Kruger added.

However, some local institutions that use mailings to promote events to Penn students worry that the new policy will have adverse effects.

Jill Katz, the manager of marketing and communications at the Institute of Contemporary Art, said this change will impact the ICA, since the institute promotes many of its exhibitions and events through the mail.

But Katz remained optimistic that students will still learn about ICA programs, acknowledged that mailings may not be the most effective way to alert students to timely events.

"Most students these days get their information through online sources, so this change will force us to think more creatively about how to get the message out," she said.

Engineering senior and Undergraduate Assembly member Daniel Sanchez, who has previously worked on UA sustainability initiatives , praised the change in the University's policy as more environmentally friendly.

"Paper products are the largest component of municipal solid waste, occupying over 40 percent of our landfills," he said. "Meanwhile, paper recycling rates hover around 50 percent in the United States."

Lea-Kruger added that publication subscriptions will not be affected and that Penn Mail has already completed a successful trial period that proved other types of mail were not being discarded.

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