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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - USPS

U. S. Postal Service - Vehicle Maintenance Facilities, Upstate New York, Albany and Western Districts
Northeast Area


The United States Postal Service employs over 17,000 people in upstate New York and operates seven vehicle maintenance facilities (VMFs) that maintain a fleet of 4210 vehicles. These facilities provide full service maintenance and perform 7444 routine vehicle services per year. The waste generated is typical of vehicle repair shops including spent degreasing solvents, used antifreeze, used oil filters, used tires, waste paint and solvents, and break cleaners. The VMFs are located in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica.

Through a pollution prevention program, the USPS Upstate New York VMFs reduced the generation of hazardous wastes by 90 percent during a three year period. These VMFs are also recycling 100 percent of the remaining solid and state-regulated waste.

Methodologies and Procedures

USPS-VMFs accomplished this reduction in hazardous waste generation and recycling by implementing best management practices, using less toxic and hazardous materials, changing the processes and equipment, and finding ways to recycle and reuse materials.

Parts Washing: Instead of using leased parts washing equipment which contained petroleum based solvents, the VMFs bought non-hazardous aqueous parts washing systems. These systems are designed to remove oils and continuously recycle the aqueous parts cleaning solution, thus extending the useful life of the cleaning material.

Brake Cleaners: The VMF switched from a chlorinated solvent and other hazardous chemical aerosols and washing equipment to a non-hazardous aqueous brake washing system.

Antifreeze Recycling: In late 1992 contractor services for the removal of waste antifreeze off-site were terminated and changed to a on-site closed-loop antifreeze recycling. The generation of toxic antifreeze waste has been eliminated, and purchases of virgin stock are minimal which leads to significant savings.

In addition, the USPS is using: microbes which consume and reduce the hydrocarbons in waste oils collected in the oil/water separators, chain-of-custody oil filter recycling, high-volume-low pressure (HVLP) spray paint guns, high-solids low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, closed-loop off-site recycling of waste oils where oils are rerefined and purchased back by each VMF, recycling of scrap metal, retreading of tires whenever possible, and recycling of used tires when their usefulness has expired.


The pollution prevention cost savings at USPS upstate New York are tracked by means of the total waste management cost per vehicle service. In 1992, the average annual cost for waste management per vehicle was $7.39. By the end of 1994, this cost had decreased to $4.52. After two years of operation, the pollution prevention program saved the USPS upstate New York $21,364 or 39 percent in waste management costs.

In addition:

  • Used parts solvents were 100 percent reduced.
  • Used antifreeze was 99.9 percent reduced.
  • Used paints solvents were 75 percent reduced.
  • VOC emissions from painting were reduced over 70 percent.
  • Used oil and filters, used tires, batteries, and scrap metal were recycled 100 percent.
  • Cost savings have also been realized through reductions in the purchase of virgin materials such as antifreeze, paint and aerosol degreasers.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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