Friday, January 16, 2009

"Dude, who stole my pallet?"

Recently the Denver Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service participated in a national initiative to assist USPS recover missing mail equipment, particularly, black and orange plastic pallets.

The effort involved 235 Inspectors nationwide who recovered more than 35,000 pallets and other USPS mail equipment.

The recouped pallets alone saved the USPS approximately $700,000 in replacement costs.

Twenty-two Denver Division Inspectors visited more than 130 locations, over a ten state area.

Some of the equipment recovered included:

  • 5,400 pallets

  • 12 pallets of #75 sleeves

  • Dozens of "pumpkins"

  • Hundreds of flat tubs

  • and a variety of other USPS mail equipment.

Inspectors found mail equipment being misused at various locations including major mailers, recycling centers, printers/publishers and pallet refurbishing companies. Near Denver, CO, Inspectors found more than 2,200 USPS pallets at a major publications mailer.

In St. Paul, MN, a pallet refurbishing company had several hundred pallets stacked 12 feet high. A company spokesperson advised “they just didn’t know what to do with them”.

In the past two years the USPS has spent approximately $65 million on 3.4 million pallets. Of the 3.4 million pallets, on an average day, there are only about 40,000 pallets available at the Mail Transport Equipment Service Centers. In FY 09, the USPS plans on spending an additional $41 million on cheaper and lighter weight plastic pallets. The lighter plastic pallets will cost about $20 each, saving the USPS approximately $4 per pallet.

So where have all the pallets gone?

USPS pallets are being hoarded by companies who keep stacks of them “for a rainy day”, store their equipment or inventory on the pallets, or use them in their warehouses to stack USPS property. The USPS estimates that many of its plastic pallets have been taken over seas. Many ports do not accept wooden pallets, making the USPS plastic pallets more valuable in some countries.

The USPS loans out their equipment as a courtesy for the customer. It is expected this equipment will be used for the purposes intended, to assist in the transporting of mail. It is recommended that a customer should only have a seven-day supply of USPS equipment on-hand.

If a customer has more than a seven day supply of equipment or if the USPS equipment is being misused, the customer should be informed to return the excess USPS equipment, so it can be redistributed. For large quantities and bigger equipment like pallets or hampers that customers cannot transport, they should complete the following easy pickup request at

Here is the link on the MTE posters .

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