Easier Opt-out Of Junk Mail On The Way

junk mail

Earlier this month Defra announced that it had reached an agreement with the direct marketing industry to give households a much easier way of stopping the mountains of junk they receive through their letterboxes.

I really welcome this news as my flat seems to receive more than its fair share of pointless and untargeted marketing materials that go straight in the recycling bag. The problem at the moment is that we all have to visit at least 3 different websites or write a whole load of emails if we are to rid ourselves of this burden.

The new system is being welcomed by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman:

“We’ve all returned home from holidays to be greeted by a mountain of unwanted, unsolicited mail waiting behind the front door, most of which is thrown straight out. These piles of paper irritate householders, waste businesses’ money and are environmentally unsustainable.

“That’s why I struck this deal with the Direct Marketing Association to give people more control over what gets posted through their letterbox but also to make sure the direct mail we do find useful is produced to higher standards and is fully recyclable.”

While Chris Combemale, Executive Director for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), had this to say:

“…untargeted and irrelevant advertising mail is not welcome. It’s this we want to eliminate.

“We’re keen to ensure that people are able to make an informed choice about whether or not they want to receive advertising mail. The new agreement we’ve struck with Defra will help to simplify how householders manage what they receive in the post.

“Unwanted mail is an annoyance and an unnecessary cost to business. By cutting this out we will also be helping to improve the environmental performance of the industry.”

Getting The Word Out

If you read my post on deforestation you will know how important it is that we reduce our paper usage and wastage and the easier it is to do this the better. I do hope that this service is highly publicized when it starts because otherwise it may be a bit of a hollow gesture.

If the DMA really wanted to help they could use the massive email lists that they and their members have to inform as many consumers as possible – this would likely cover millions of households.

Suggestions For Defra and the DMA

Another idea I have come up with is to force advertisers to put a reference code onto every piece of direct mail they send. This code could then be entered into the online system allowing people to selectively opt-out of communications from certain organisations. They would then be given the option to sign up for email communications instead if they wish to get the information but not the hard copy of it.

I would certainly use this service for charities I have donated to in the past because they are big sinners when it comes to sending too much paper mail through the post. I don’t mind being contacted by them but the paper is not necessary in this day of email – email even has advantages when it comes to tracking engagement and response rates and it’s far cheaper for marketers!

Junk Mail In Numbers

Anyway, here are some of the astonishing figures associates with direct mail marketing:

  • 9 billion unaddressed items of direct mail sent each year
  • 1.7 billion addressed items
  • that’s an average per household of more than 300 unaddressed and 77 addressed items per year
  • 380,000 tonnes of direct marketing material produced in 2009 and only 80% was sent for recycling
  • this means 76,000 tonnes ended up in landfill or incinerators

This new web service is due to go live at some point in April 2012 and I will of course let everyone know as soon as it is available to sign up.

Steve (152 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.


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