Is it illegal to recycle standard mail addressed to, presumably, a previous tenant of an apartment?
Context: I have received the mail for someone who I assume is a previous tenant of the apartment I live in. I have tried writing Not at this address and Return to sender on them and the mail carrier continues re-delivering most of them to my mailbox. Most of the mail is AARP stuff, so I assume it's standard "junk" mail (though they are addressed specifically to the person and do not include "or current resident").
On this question there were two US-based answers:
- It's a crime to throw away mail
- It's only a crime if it's first-class mail. It's ok to recycle if it's standard (bulk/junk) mail.
A question on Quora similarly distinguishes between first-class and standard mail. The problem is, the person who answered that it's a crime to recycle a previous tenant's mail provided a source (Cornell) and that source starts with
Whoever takes any letter
It does not distinguish between first-class and standard mail. Whereas the answers on Stack Exchange and Quora that say it's ok to recycle standard mail do not provide sources.
Am I safe to assume the mail carrier returning the mail to me is a sign that it's ok for me to recycle them or do I need to keep dropping the ever-increasing stack of mail back into the mail system?