Optimal Outsource is pleased to announce the they have adopted sustainable mailing practices with reusable ecoEnvelopes for customer invoicing and direct mail needs. Optimal now mails over 1 million ecoEnvelopes to Homeowner Associations (HOA) residents nationwide.
ecoEnvelope™ allows customers to receive and remit payment using the same envelope – making bill payment easier, minimizing mail costs, reducing paper use, and lowering environmental impact. Eliminating return envelopes conserves 98% of the paper used in a two-envelope mailing and substantially reduces carbon emissions. According to Gale Ward, ecoEnvelopes’ President, “Optimal Outsource has been a leader in the HOA market and a great partner. Their innovative business practices set them apart in the market and their team is one of the best we have worked with over the years. We encourage HOAs across the country to reach out to the Optimal team to explore their customized HOA services.”
“Optimal Outsource has a long history of customer-centric innovation that streamlines operations, reduces costs and protect the environment”, commented Tom McMurray, CEO. Optimal Outsource first saw ecoEnvelopes at the USPS National Postal Forum and became interested in the concept as a way to benefit both customers and the environment. McMurray added, “ecoEnvelopes is one in a series of moves the company has made to maintain their leadership position in the industry to bring new concepts and products to their customers.” Optimal Outsource is currently the only Mail Service Provider servicing the HOA market to use ecoEnvelopes.
Did you know today is National Paper Airplane Day? Well, it is…..and we are celebrating!
Why are celebrating? Because we now offer envelopes that come from 100% reclaimed materials. These envelopes are made from a combination of agricultural waste (such as sugar cane residue or wheat straw) and recycled content. This means there are no new materials or trees used! Eliminating the use of valuable virgin materials is better for our environment. Using reclaimed materials as paper for envelopes might seem like a small step to help the environment, but it is something everyone can do. Through our combined efforts we can have a huge impact – saving the materials used in the more than 100 Billion envelopes mailed each year! Together, we can create a healthier planet.
So, take a moment and have some fun. Let’s step outside and play. Make a paper airplane! We have a template to make an airplane along with directions. Pull out a piece of paper from your recycling box and reuse it for a bit of fun. And, just like our RECOCHET line of 2-way envelopes, this paper airplane will come back to you when you fly it….so it won’t get away from you and you can use it over and over again!
If you want to learn more about our bioWise envelopes, click here.
Reusable two-way envelopes
Saint Paul, Minn.
Recycled Content: At least 30 percent recycled paper
Market: Businesses and institutions
An envelope from Saint Paul, Minn.-based ecoEnvelopes embraces reducing, reusing and recycling at the same time.
The company’s Recochet Alta envelopes eliminate the need for companies to insert a return envelope, reducing paper usage. Customers or donors can reuse the same envelope to reply. And the envelopes are made with at least 30 percent post-consumer recycled content.
“Reusable ecoEnvelopes are returned to the mailer, where sophisticated recycling systems re-capture and return the paper for reuse, supporting a closed-loop system where the same paper is used over and over,” according to the company.
In all, the envelopes reduce the use of natural resources by 98 percent, compared with traditional mailings, according to ecoEnvelopes.
The product won a 2015 Good Design Award from The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in the Graphics/Packaging category.
The company also has a new envelope called BioWise, which contains 30 percent agricultural residue and 70 percent chlorine-free recycled content, of which 30 percent is post-consumer content. The bio-based material is bagasse, a fibrous residue that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed.
USPS Approves New 2-Way Top Flap ecoEnvelope
The RECOCHET Alta was developed in response to customer demand for reusable envelopes that insert from the top. It is functionally equivalent to existing commercial envelopes used by major mailers and their mail service providers. The Alta has a standard flap at the top for insertion, eliminating the need for mailers to re-orient their print stream, and an opening tear strip on the bottom, to maintain 2-Way functionality for direct mail marketing and statement mailing.
The Company conducted successful focus group assessments at a senior’s center with participants ranging in age up to 92. Participants uniformly said the envelopes were ‘easy to use’ and a ‘good idea’. They see the 2-Way RECOCHET Alta as a positive for themselves, the mailer and the environment. The Company intends to offer the Alta as a stock product, migrating current and future customers to this new, intuitive solution.
Ann DeLaVergne Recognized for Community Work Through Women Helping Women Award
The Women Helping Women award recognizes outstanding work done by women in business to reach out and work with women in the community. In 2002, Ann founded ecoEnvelopes LLC with patented designs for eco-friendly 2-Way envelopes, packaging and office supplies that reduce costs and engage consumers in conservation. In 2010, Ann assumed the Board Chairperson position and devoted more of her time to her passion for community work. She established Our Community Foods Projects (OCFP) to increase access to healthy food in low wealth and minority communities by establishing community gardens where people live. It is through this work that Ann works with and encourages women in community to start small businesses around food systems to improve food security and economic security
US Patent 8,875,985 has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled "Conversion Envelopes." The Conversion Envelope, also known as the Transformer, is part of ecoEnvelopes RECOCHET product line. This unique technology allows large format mailers to send 6” x 9” outgoing envelopes that convert or transform into smaller envelopes for return mailing and high-speed automated processing.
This patent reflects the truly innovative features found exclusively in the Company’s sustainable RECOCHET product line. It builds on an intellectual property portfolio that includes a broad base of patents that focus on functionality and ease of manufacturing, processing and use.
“ecoEnvelopes continually looks for ways to reduce the costs and environmental footprint associated with direct mail marketing and statement mailing. We have a tradition of creating customer-centric solutions that meet customer needs today and provide a thoughtful bridge to the future. ecoEnvelopes designs provide an IP-rich environment for continuous innovation and the deployment of diverse solutions." said Gale Ward, President.
The Company’s growing portfolio demonstrates an ongoing commitment to research and development supporting its position as a leading force in mail industry innovation.
2-Way Expedited Mailers from ecoEnvelopes named Business Innovation of the Year
The Business Innovation of the Year award recognizes a product that revolutionized its industry. ecoEnvelopes has created new 2-Way Expedited Mailers designed for high-speed automated insertion. According to Gale, Ward, ecoEnvelopes’ President and General Manager, “The new 2-Way Expedited Mailer is the first reusable, 2-Way expedited mail envelope that is automation compatible. It solves an important operational challenge, eliminating the requirement and costs associated with hand-inserting FedEx®, UPS® and USPS Priority Mail® envelopes. With the new 2-Way Expedited ecoEnvelope, our customer is able to double their annual volume from 1,200,000 million to 2,400,000 million per year. The benefit to their customer, a global financial services leader, is a reduction in costs from $3.00 per mailpiece to approximately $0.25 cents, saving approximately $6 million dollars on the increased volume, they benefit from the timely distribution of key financial documents and they receive needed tracking and delivery confirmation.”
Working with the US Postal Service, ecoEnvelopes received approval for this new automation-compatible 2-Way ecoEnvelope for use as USPS Priority Express®, Priority Mail® and Critical Mail® in sizes up to and including 11” x 13”, making the size of expedited mailers more flexible to meet customer needs.
This new solution was enabled through collaboration with technology vendors, mailing operations, outsource mail service providers and the USPS.
The American Business Awards are the nation’s premier business awards program. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. More than 3,300 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories. More than 320 executives nationwide participated in the judging process for this year’s awards.
New Frontiers in Sustainability and Innovation Presented by Gale Ward, ecoEnvelopes CEO
The MAILCOM Keynote presentation was delivered by Gale Ward, CEO. Gale presented on the subject of new frontiers of innovation and sustainability that are delivering six-figure returns. Attendees learned how green innovation can lead to process improvement, actual reductions in acquisition and operating costs, drive incremental revenue streams, and help build brand equity. Compelling data was presented illustrating triple bottom line results.
Gale Ward is the President and General Manager of ecoThynkTM and ecoEnvelopes®. She is a skilled market strategist and leader with Fortune and startup experience, she joined ecoEnvelopes in 2007 and assumed leadership of the company in 2010. Previously she served as President of Entropy Solutions, Inc. a thermal management company and as Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Integrated Decisions and Systems, Inc., a revenue management software company. Ms. Ward also held management positions at International Paper Company, CBS, Inc. and The Washington Post. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Iona College in New York.
Gale Ward of ecoEnvelopes wins 2012 Gold Stevie Award for Women in Business
The Stevie Awards for Women in Business are the world’s top honors for female entrepreneurs, executives, and the organizations they run. Stevie, taken from the name Stephen, is derived from the Greek for "crowned." Dubbed the “Oscars” for business by Paul Tharp of the New York Post, the Stevie is widely considered to be the world’s premier business award. The 2012 awards received entries from 17 nations and territories and more than 1,200 nominations.
Ward was recognized for her leadership efforts and commitment to delivering value for ecoEnvelopes customers and the marketplace. She has demonstrated how a successful for-profit business can also be an instrument for positive social and environmental change. Ward is president and general manager of ecoEnvelopes, LLC, a company that designs reusable 2-Way envelopes, packages and postal solutions. She is responsible for the overall strategic vision, direction and management of ecoEnvelopes. “While I am honored to be recognized as a Stevie Award winner, any l success I have achieved is a reflection of the people and partners we are fortunate to be associated with,” Ward said. “ecoEnvelopes’ solutions demonstrate how even the simplest invention can be reimagined for a better world. We are excited about our future and look forward to working collaboratively to support others as they ‘green’ their operations.”
“I’m very pleased that we were able to conclude our tenth year of organizing Stevie Awards programs with a very successful Women in Business event,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards. “This year’s Stevie Award-winning women are the most accomplished, impressive group we’ve ever had. Their stories of success will be an inspiration to women around the globe who dream of starting and growing a business and making a difference in the world.”
Sprint's Green Connection
August 13, 2012
by Allan Nahajewski
Sprint finds environmental goodness and savings in two-way ecoEnvelopes
How would you like to save a half-million dollars a year, mitigate your impact on the environment and build your brand’s reputation as an environmental leader?
That's exactly what Sprint is doing with the launch of their new paper bill that allows customers to receive and remit payment using the same envelope -making bill payment easier, minimizing mail costs, reducing paper use, and lowering environmental impact. The Kansas-based company, with more than 56 million customers, was actually named No. 3 on Newsweek's 2011 Green Rankings.
The two-way mailer created by ecoEnvelopes 1"' (watch a video about ecoEnvelopes) means customers reduce paper waste and conserve natural resources. In just over a year, Sprint estimates the new envelope format will save just under a half-million dollars in operational costs and the equivalent of:
• 447 tons of paper
• 1,669 tons of wood, or 11,565 trees
• 9,931,834 gallons of water, or 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools
• 859,047 pounds of solid waste, or 31 loaded garbage trucks
• 2,692,185 pounds of C02, or 244 cars off the road/year
The vision of the concept was several years in the making, ultimately requiring the efforts of eight external partners and 12 internal departments. From approval to pilot, the implementation was completed in nine months.
“This really is a breakthrough,” says Gale Ward of the Minnesota-based ecoEnvelopes. “To my knowledge, Sprint is the first large mailer to implement a two-way mailing initiative of this scope.”
Sprint mails invoices in two-way envelopes to 9 million wireless customers per month. Like most companies, many customers still want to receive a paper bill, despite the benefits of electronic billing. Given that 65% of Sprint's wireless customers still choose to receive their bills via mail, rather than electronically, Sprint went about finding a more eco-friendly solution "Mail is a viable channel for Sprint," says Keanon Swan, manager, Postal strategy and vendor management for Sprint. "We cannot alienate customers simply because they haven't chosen to go electronic. We believe in customer choice, and all channels are important to us."
How it started
Swan first learned about ecoEnvelopes several years ago at a trade show. He was immediately intrigued by the idea, but he realized the timing had to be right to champion such a major change in the company. At the time, Sprint was going through a merger, then a major bill redesign.
In 2008, Sprint tested the ecoEnvelope on high-speed equipment in its Sacramento facility with promising results. "Initial high-volume machine testing gave us the confidence to move forward," says Swan. The project, however, was delayed again as Sprint was transitioning to a new mail service provider.
So when the timing was right, Swan approached DST Output, Sprint's new customer communications provider, and envelope manufacturer Tension Corporation to discuss ways to produce the ecoEnvelope and then process it in a high-speed statement processing environment.
"They welcomed the innovation with open arms," he says. "We worked on a new prototype in January of 2011, and by June, we began testing prototypes. In October, we launched our pilot."
The three-month pilot involved 300,000 customers.
"Being first meant there was no reference data available about customer acceptance, so we built objective data collection tools and created analytic techniques," says Swan.
Sprint's opinion on the matter
"From the focus groups we conducted, customers said they thought the envelope was cool, they felt Sprint was leading the way, and they felt connected to our sustainability efforts. The feedback was neutral to positive," says Swan.
During the pilot, Sprint conducted phone surveys. The results echoed the focus group input. The official rollout of the two-way envelope began in February with a staggered launch so that internal customer support systems experienced no changes in call volume. Phone surveys continue as an important part of Sprint's continuous improvement process.
"Our goal from the beginning was to implement a two-in-one envelope that helped Sprint engage our customers in our sustainability efforts," says Swan. "We viewed the monthly bill as an appointment with our customers. When our customers received the ecoEnvelope, we wanted our environmental message front and center, and to use the ecoEnvelope to actively engage our customers in our sustainability efforts."
Swan said they were able to implement several paper reduction and Postal incentive initiatives along the way to further their cost benefit efforts. The initiatives included lighter-weight paper and envelopes. They also worked closely with the Postal Service 1"' to participate in the Reply Rides Free Incentive Program and the 2011 Mobile Barcode Promotion. Sprint reinvested some of the savings from those efforts into other sustainability initiatives, including the ecoEnvelopes project.
"We looked at the ROI and saw that there were both hard savings and an environmental savings to the tune of over 400 tons of paper," says Swan. "We saw it as a way to reduce our Postal material costs and our paper consumption and drive environmental benefits. We also saw it as a way to give our customers a responsible choice of continuing to use mail while being more environmentally sustainable."
Green mail is cool mail
Internally, the project is being celebrated as a success. Project manager Patty Carlson received a Circle of Excellence Award, one of the company's top honors for employees, for pulling together the pilot effort.
"It was exciting for us to pursue such a large-scale project because we felt it was the right thing to do to engage our customers in a way that reinforced our brand's commitment to sustainability and impacted our bottom line," says Swan.
"We have an organization that encourages innovation and fosters creativity," he adds. "I think the lesson learned here is to fully leverage all of your opportunities. It's easy to focus on migration to paperless billing and payment, but that doesn't mean that we should stop trying to find ways to make the mail channel more innovative tor the customers who still choose to use it."
Swan says the project has "reinvigorated the conversation about mail in our company," and comes at a time when the U.S. Postal Service is offering compelling incentives. Sprint is now exploring revenue opportunities, since the new envelope allows inserts, in an effort to better communicate to customers and to engage them in sustainable practices.