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Tech Notes

Preparation of Flats in Flat Trays

USPS Flat Tray with Green LidOn January 22, 2023, new regulations regarding the elimination of sacks for flat-size mailings will begin. For your information, the Federal Registry details the rules of these changes. Here are some important notes to consider if you're unfamiliar with using Flat Trays as a container for flat-sized mail.

A Federal Register Notice (FRN) with the final ruling on the removal of sacks for USPS Marketing Mail l® and Periodical flats was published on January 5, 2023.

Federal Register - Removal of Sacks-USPS Marketing Mail and Periodicals Flats

As part of its network redesign efforts, the Postal Service is eliminating the use of sacks as containers for Flats acceptance/entry but will continue to allow Flat trays as acceptable containers for acceptance and entry along with bundles on pallets for USPS Marketing Mail and Periodicals flat Mail.

Carrier route, 5-digit scheme carrier routes, 5-digit carrier routes, and merged mail USPS Marketing Mail® and Periodicals flat mail will continue to be allowed to use sacks as a handling unit.

The Postal Service has tried to eliminate the entry of sacks at any other point other than DSCF and DDU regarding Periodicals.

Sacks with parcels will be accepted at all entry levels.

Periodicals bundled in sacks and dropped at other than DSCF and DDU will be required to change to another container provided by the Postal Service, and they will not be charged the container price. Exception: For small mailers using Postal Wizard and small mailers that have no software who bring bundled flats in sacks, the mailer will empty any sacked, bundled flats into an origin container at the BMEU upon arrival. BMEU personnel will need to ensure that a container with an origin placard is in place to facilitate this process.

Note: If there is a situation that doesn’t fit into the above specific exceptions, please reach out to your local BME Management.

The container levels in which you're still allowed to use sacks

Carrier route, 5-digit scheme carrier routes, and 5-digit carrier routes USPS Marketing Mail® and Periodicals flat mail will continue to be allowed to use sacks

5.6.2 Preparation for Flats in Flat Trays
All flat tray preparation is subject to these standards:

  • Addresses on all pieces must face upward in the same direction.
  • Pieces must be placed in trays to maintain their orientation. Once the required minimum volume is reached to allow or require the preparation of a tray, additional pieces must be placed in the same tray up to its capacity to minimize the number of trays used. When possible, pieces must be placed in two or more stacks to optimize tray use, but mail must not overfill the tray to inhibit adequate closure or covering of the content.
  • The weight of a tray and its content must not exceed 70 pounds.
  • Each tray must bear the correct tray label.

Covering and Strapping Flat Trays

Each tray must be covered (with the green side of the lid facing up for First Class mail and the white side facing up for Periodicals and USPS Marketing Mail). Each covered flat tray must then be secured with two plastic straps placed tightly around the width of the tray (the shorter dimension).

Plastic strapping should have a minimum tensile breaking strength of 70 pounds. Other plastic material may be used for strapping if it has a minimum tensile breaking strength of 70 pounds with an elongation before yield of less than 20 percent. Strapping should be applied to have a minimum tension of ten pounds. Strapping of any color is acceptable as long as it does not interfere with label visibility.

Sealing of the strapping may be accomplished by melting the ends together using heat or friction, using a non-corrosive plastic buckle or seal, tying a knot, or using self-locking straps. The seal of the strapping should have a minimum breaking strength of 60 pounds. Metal buckles or seals must not be used to secure the ends of strapping material placed around flat trays.

Flat trays stacked on pallets

Flat trays used in a Periodicals or USPS Marketing Mail flat-size mailing may be nested into each other on a pallet without lids and the pallet then shrink-wrapped.

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