Roadside collection boxes first made their appearance in the mid-1800s, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Today's collection boxes are an iconic blue color and they are recognized nationwide as temporary repositories for outgoing mail.
Collection boxes are where consumers can insert mail they wish to be delivered to a specific address. Boxes are emptied by mail carriers who bring the mail back to a post office or sorting facility to begin the journey to a final destination.
In the wake of budget shortfalls and in the interest of lowering expenses, the Postal Service began eliminating underutilized collection boxes in 2002. In 1985 there were 395,000 collection boxes on the street, compared to 345,000 by 2005, reports the Postal Service.
On July 30, 2007, the Postal Service instituted a rule that requires all letters or packages with postage stamps weigh no more than 13 ounces if being sent through a collection box. The previous weight limit was 16 ounces. Packages and letters using postage affixed by postage meter, Click-N-Ship, PC postage or at an automated postal center can weigh more than 13 ounces.
Mary McKenzie has been a writer and editor since 1991. Her articles for eHow cover such diverse topics as consumer issues, crafts and home and garden. McKenzie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass media from Rutgers University.