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Sprint adopts reusable billing envelope

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The ecoEnvelope acts as a two-way mailer that can be used both to send out bills and receive customer payments.

Much has been written about the operational efficiencies and environmental benefits of paperless billing, both for the consumer and the business. But there are still far more monthly bills and invoices sent out via paper than by digital means.

That is what motivated Sprint Nextel to announce this week that it will start using a new billing scheme. The new format, called the ecoEnvelope, uses a single envelope both for sending out bills and for allowing customers to send back their payments.

The new format DOES require bill recipients to open the envelope in a different manner, so that it still intact for return mailing. (See the example below.) But Sprint believes that it will help minimize its printing and paper costs (no second envelope to include inside), as well as its mailing expenses.

"While more than 30 percent of Sprint accounts current use a paperless billing option, many customers prefer to receive a paper invoice," said Scott Rice, vice president, Care and Billing for Sprint, in a statement. "The new bill format not only gives our customers a convenient method to remit payment but it will reduce paper waste, conserve natural resources, and lower paper consumption for Sprint."

The ecoEnvelope has the added advantage of being made out of sustainable materials include certified paper, inks and window films that have been manufactured with attention to their impact on the environment.

Sprint estimates that the new envelope format will save up to 447 tons of paper annually along with about a half-million dollars in operational costs.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure