Cover Story: Sprint Saves Green
"I thought, 'Well, instead of sending two envelopes, why don't we send one?'" Swan explains, "because [often] customers [who receive bills by direct mail] pay electronically, anyway. So why are we sending a remit envelope?"
He knew it would be a big step for Sprint, with its 56 million subscribers and nearly $7.3 billion in wireless service revenues during the third quarter of 2012.
"The timing had to be right," Swan says. "So while reusable products aren't new, reusable products in this space—that convert from the 6x9 size down to a #10 that allows you to eliminate the remit envelope—that's the piece where we had to crack the code. … Because that's the part that hadn't been done before."
So Swan believed he was onto something. "We could reduce our paper demand and engage our customers in the process—by providing them with something that none of the other wireless carriers were providing—and perhaps even create a bridge as they contemplated going paperless."
It was a belief that would have to sustain him for a couple years before he could work full-force to make the dream a reality.
"As soon as I returned from that conference, I wanted to see if a product like this would run on high-speed equipment," Swan says of testing the envelope at Sprint's facility.
It worked. But then a couple situations got in the way of moving full-speed ahead.
Although it was 2008 and three years into the merger, Sprint was still in the middle of transitioning print mail functions. Then Sprint transitioned its print/mail shop management to DST Output.
With so much going on, the timing wasn't yet right for green mail.
Finally, in August 2010, Sprint struck a deal with SumRall, Tension and ecoEnvelopes. The arrangement was part of Sprint's paper reduction strategy and, as a result, Sprint lightened its form paper weight from 20 pounds to 18 pounds and its envelope paper weight from 24 pounds to 20 pounds.