Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun July 14 2013 17:24:52

USPS Wants to Help Dispose of Obsolete Personal Materials

By: Ina Steiner

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The USPS is seeking proposals for a new program in which it would partner with third-parties to collect unwanted goods from people's homes. "The USPS conceives of a partnership with one or more qualified companies to co-market a national program that collects household items for recycling or humanitarian donations from consumers and businesses," the organization explains in its "Request for Information for Household Items Recycling" (RFI).

The idea behind the RFI is that the USPS could generate revenue for the Postal Service through delivery services (charging its partners or consumers, or a hybrid approach), while at the same time meeting its objectives toward "corporate citizenship."

It envisions collecting such items as used eyeglasses, hearing aids, shoes, clothing, or other household items, and using post office lobbies to promote the program, as a collection point for product returns, and/or for distribution of packaging and labels to facilitate return shipments.

Companies have been doing similar projects without the aid of the postal service for some time thanks in great part to the existence of eBay as a place to resell unwanted items - particularly electronics.

In fact, the USPS already offers a recycling program through MaxBack as we outlined in this EcommerceBytes article.

If you're interested in the program, you have until the end of the month to submit a response that "outlines capabilities toward a co-marketing relationship with USPS." The Postal Service RFI explains:

"Responses should focus on a method through which consumers could safely and effectively dispose of their obsolete personal materials in the most convenient and cost-effective manner possible. Responses should address marketing and promotional methods to communicate potential solutions to the public and describe how the concept would support the financial and corporate citizenship objectives of the USPS."

However, the request is for planning purposes only and there is no guarantee a formal solicitation will be issued as a result of responses to the RFI.

What do you think of such a program from the post office, and how would it impact online sellers?

Comments (20) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Sun Jul 14 19:45:32 2013

Hey, what a great idea; USPS should speak to John Donahoe about this; USPS and eBay could partner in creating an online flea market—better to recycle this stuff than to put into landfill; or better still, eBay could funnel all this valuable household junk to their consignment sellers—the possibilities are mind boggling—if only the turkeys in the eBay executives could see them … too funny … http://bit.ly/YvxFEg

Meanwhile, inside the eBay bunker: Memo from John to Devin: Devin, this is a great idea (I myself had been dreaming about such a program; USPS must have stolen the idea from my hallucinations; or maybe it was the NSA; who knows?); anyway, get in contact with USPS, ASAP; this could be a real money spinner, and, more importantly, help us keep the rusting old scow afloat a while longer until we can entice all those “leading retailers, brands and manufacturers” of the world to come on board …

And “The band continued to play on, even as the bow dipped lower and lower.”—The Titanic/eBay Story ...

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Sun Jul 14 20:43:44 2013

Are they envisioning the USPS lobby take on the ambience of the donation area (usually back loading dock) of the Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, etc….  Sorting bins, dumpsters & all.

Can we check the stuff out while we are standing in line! Might make the line standing experience a bit more interesting.  Time will pass faster & better than looking at those greeting cards & sample Priority boxes for entertainment.

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by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 14 23:12:25 2013

Good grief....they have GOT to be kidding aren't they?  What have these people been smoking!  There are enough people doing that, we don't need the postal service sticking it's nose in something like this.  I can just imagine the mess/smell in the Post Office lobbies.  Probably complete with roaches and bed bugs!  That's one way to get people to stop going into the Post Offices....they would like to shut them down anyway.

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by: Just Plain Irritated This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 14 23:26:31 2013

Oh my GOSH!  

Another part of our Looney Tunes Government.  

That pretty well explains it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Sun Jul 14 23:36:20 2013

Hey this stuff getting collected here and is sold in the 3rd world markets.

Humanitarian nothing, some corporate is making $ in the 3rd markets with 2nd hand donated goods.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Jul 15 00:18:28 2013

I'm with WhoKnewIt. Whoever thought up this idea must me on some seriously heavy medication. I'm sure there are better ways to "generate revenue." Why not just turn the lobbies into day care centers? Or rent space to McDonald's or Jack in the Box so that people can mail items and pick up their lunch at the same time?  

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 01:32:41 2013

Roaches and bed bugs!OH MY!  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Jul 15 02:34:14 2013

Surely there must be a way to merge this brilliant idea with The Ho's unfilfilled order scheme.

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by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 03:01:43 2013

I'm with WhoKnewIt, too!

What idiots thought this up?  Or, actually, what is it they are trying to think up?

There are enough organizations, with thrift shops, who take donations, and regular secondhand stores, who buy from garage sales, that do this sort of thing professionally. What could the Post Office contribute, that would add anything, or do what hasn't been done?

Why can't the Post Office just do its job? Plain and simple, which is deal with the mail.  Professional service and reasonable postage, is what they need to concentrate on. They have done that for decades. Why do they have to try to invent the ''Next Big Thing''?

There isn't enough space in our little Post Office's lobby to add collection bins.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jul 15 07:26:54 2013

I had to look at my calendar to see if it was April Fools Day.

I hate that charities in this country are turning into such corporate entities while they keep their tax free status.  

Goodwill will be beating down the door of USPS to get this deal. (Anyone see the recent news of Goodwill regional CEOs making millons while they pay some of their disabled workers below minimum wage?)  And if eBay can figure out a way to profit from it they'll be in line as well.  I see "eBay Charities" as a "non-profit" off shoot of eBay coming to a theater near you.

Sorry postmen and postwoman, your role just expanded.  

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by: bunnspec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 07:53:49 2013

Remember folks, there is a Donohoe leading the USPS too... Birds of a feather falter together...

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by: bunnspec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 07:58:35 2013

@Rexford-thanks for pointing out the true nature of Goodwill-the many stores send millions into Goodwill HQ in Indiana as "subscriptions" fueled by the online sales where bad pics, excessive S&H and terrible descriptions; none the less, they're making an obscene amount on their low overhead "inventory"...

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 08:10:37 2013

I just heard - so call it a rumor - that Salvation Army sells it's name and logo. I was told the local store is owned by 4 individuals and they have to pa SA 10% of the gross sales for the use of the name???
I have to find out if that is true - I drop stuff off on a regular basis that is too good for the trash pick up.
I also, can't figure out why shopgoodwill charges so much in S/H. Everything is sold as is. Electronics that I checked. My daughter is taking a photo class in school and needs a good manual 35mm camera. Goodwill is ridiculous. Leary of buying off ebay. May have to opt for Amazon.
I'm in the wrong business - people hand you stuff and you sell it a keep all the money except for overhead. Non- Profit means give maybe 10-15% to a qualified need etc..They need to change the laws on non-profit and set limits on pay and PERKS.  Wish my manufacturing business could do that. We have to pay for materials.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 11:42:24 2013

USPS cant do thier job right as it is ... now they are inthe JUNK business? Is it Sanford & Son (its the big one ELizabeth honey!) or is this USPS?

Who's going to pay for all the associated costs with this? Shipping just went up 2 months ago - will I have to pay another %58 more so that some lowly postal UNION employee has to "pick up the garbage" once its dropped off at the PO?

Since when is the US government a 3rd world country collection point? If you want to make a donation of your used crap - either fill eBay with it so JD gets rich (the poor man only has a Lear Jet and not his own personal 747!)(the horror!)  ro donate it to the Salvation Amry or Goodwill. The PO is a place of business not garbage collecting!

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 15:03:25 2013

I would be sure to drop off all of my dirty unwashed underwear in the bin.
Also seems like a good place to drop off my trash for FREE, you know, instead of the 7-11 I use now.
They can dig through all my underwear and banana peels and I hope john Donahoe and MR. DONAHOE who is the head of the Post Office (funny coincidence??) enjoy my sweaty and greasy undergarments-LOL.
If they do this I will buy 2 cases of beer for the troubled kid down the street and I will tell him to drink up in the post office parking lot at night and to VOMIT in the collection box- I WILL DO IT.
Vomit, feces, urine, dirty and GREASY undergarments, orange peels, coffee grounds- they can have it ALL (except old mail).
MH
Now, when will the boxes be installed as I am very excited? That troubled kid down the street looks CRAZY and THIRSTY?!  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 20:53:39 2013

Now now----in one of the TINIEST PO's in the country --in a quaint re-purposed train station----we have a lovely custom of having a "drop-off" table and a rack for FREE kids books--ya know--bring one in take one away style.  And anyone who wants to can leave things like magazines or books or good used items--nothing large or over the top but useful things.

And it is not filled with used underwear either.

That said tho---this is NOT something organized by the USPS it is a very local thing.  Most of the PO's around my rural location function as the de facto "Community hub" and people respect them and would never leave anything like Mass Howlers bizarre contributions.  

You don't even wanna KNOW what we call people from Mass around here.

And a few other things:  I too have heard the SA "ownership" idea but have been unable to confirm or deny.  Folks???

The Goodwills around here all now function as a giant funnel for getting rid of TARGET and a few other retail "mistakes"---damaged or missing pieces items;  odd linens--one pillowcase sorta deal---or clothing  and shoes that did not sell.  Much of this is---irony alert!!!---marked by GW at a HIGHER price than it was marked DOWN at the orig store.  Sigh..  

And  many people will no longer donate to GW here because of this!  I gather that GW makes offers to these retail places to "accept" donations of this crap or they make a low ball offer for it and the retailer gets a huge write off.

Has ANYONE here ever discovered WHAT GW DOES with the money they take in?  I keep asking and get nowhere.  Have you ever seen a charity project with GW's name on it?  Like Habitat?  Or even disaster "relief' like SA promises to do?  Nope me neither.  

What I do see however is GW "skimming" the good stuff off and diverting it to these on-line sales via ebay or their own web sites.  Such bad photos the world has never  seen before and the prices OMG the PRICES!  No descriptions no decent info no decent pics---and yet---they feel we should be jumping for joy to buy stuff from them because they are a "Registered Charity"!!!!   Ummmm----

The very THOUGHT of the snotty and ill-informed counter clerks at MY local PO (Not the train station PO alas!) getting involved with DONATIONS---I cannot imagine the 'tude and rules and regs that could get dragged up on something like this!  

Even here in my tiny town we have a bin for donations---and several other worthy places to donate.  
Why oh why would anyone even THINK to take  items away from  places who already support fire victims;  summer meal and camp programs;  fuel programs; transport for handicapped and seniors to shopping and MD visits--this is just part of what ONE charity shop in my tiny town does!  And what---the Postal System is JEALOUS of them???

This is the SAME Postal System that allows their carriers to drop off DEMAND FOR GIFTS cards at Christmas???  THAT Postal System????

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 15 22:36:41 2013

That was in HUMOR and I never meant to offend anyone (I would NEVER really do those things). Please accept my sincere APOLOGY.  Worked up over here with the report coming on Wednesday.  

Mass Howler

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 17 16:23:13 2013

Ebay reports!
Stock FALLING AFTER HOURS!
Success!
Pleased over here, they are guiding DOWN long-term too!
Needed this here, 54.43 and FALLING.
MH

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Jul 19 03:15:03 2013

I told my friendly USPS window clerks today (gave them a hard copy of Ina's report) about this possible nightmare.

They think such an arrangement would be major health hazard not only in terms of the noxious belongings of Mass Howler but also fleas, ticks, transmittable fungus diseases, STDs, various bacterial and viral infections, cockroaches, etc.

Surely this is a belated April Fool's joke.

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 22 05:57:10 2013

CRAZY and THIRSTY.



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