Direct marketing industry hits UK recycling goals

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 05 Apr 2010 11:56
Junk mail recycling targets delivered 3 years ahead of schedule

The direct marketing industry met the 2009 recycling target agreed by the Government and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) (UK) and is even ahead of the goal for 2013, a new report has confirmed.

The report, released by the DMA (UK) and Royal Mail, revealed that 76.5 per cent of direct marketing material is now recycled – well ahead of the 2009 target of 55 per cent and beating the 2013 target of 70 per cent.

The huge volume of direct mail now being recycled is not merely mail that travels straight from doormat to recycling bin. According to the industry, direct mail generates £16 billion in sales for UK plc each year.

Increased targeting and industry initiatives, combined with growing household recycling levels and increased subscription to the Mailing Preference Service (MPS), have resulted in an overall reduction of 348,600 tonnes of direct marketing material being distributed between the signing of the voluntary agreement in 2003 and the end of 2009.

The amount of direct mail entering landfill has fallen by 79 per cent since 2003, with some 382,698 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions saved by increased recycling activity in 2009 alone – the equivalent of one billion miles driven in a petrol car.

This increase in the levels of recycled direct marketing material also reflects a significant behavioural change over recent years, with levels of domestic recycling across all household waste more than trebling during the past decade.

Direct marketing material now accounts for just 0.4 per cent of all non-recycled household waste and Confederation of Paper Industries data suggests that the current levels of recycling for direct mail material outperforms general paper recycling.

Since Defra introduced the recycling targets in 2003, the DMA and Royal Mail have supported a number of industry initiatives to support a wider industry drive towards sustainability, including:

* PAS2020 - guidelines introduced in spring 2009 to gauge the environmental impact of direct marketing activity

* Sustainable Mail – a Royal Mail service that rewards better-targeted, sustainably produced and easy to recycle direct mail campaigns with lower prices

* Expansion of DMA best practice guidelines to tackle environmental impact, and the introduction of a reduced-cost BSI ISO 14001 certification.

The report also reveals:

* Subscriptions to the MPS have increased by 21 per cent since 2003, to more than 4.5 million householders. Almost 200,000 households have joined unaddressed mail opt-out schemes

* More than half of UK adults say they would like increased recycling information from their local authority

* Over half of residents (51 per cent) would recycle more mail if they had more information on whether envelopes could be recycled

Defra, the DMA and Royal Mail will now discuss next steps, including how the direct marketing industry will continue the drive towards greater environmental efficiency.

Dan Norris, Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs at Defra said: “I’m pleased to see the industry’s commitment to driving up the recycling rates of direct marketing. We look forward to working with them in the future as they strive to increase recycling even further. It is also important to ensure that direct mail is properly targeted to reduce the need for waste in the first place.”

Robert Keitch, chief of membership and brand at the DMA, said: “The huge volume of direct mail now being recycled is not merely mail that travels straight from doormat to recycling bin. Every year, direct mail generates £16 billion in sales for UK plc. Hitting the Government’s recycling targets shows we can do so without hitting companies’ bottom lines.”

Matthew Neilson, Head of Environmental Solutions, Royal Mail, commented: “The direct marketing industry has made a significant effort to reduce its impact on the environment, and the introduction of initiatives such as the DMA’s PAS2020 and Royal Mail’s Sustainable Mail product have been instrumental in helping the sector to achieve this recycling goal. However, there is much more that can be done to ensure direct marketers are communicating in as sustainable a fashion as possible.”

The targets apply to posted direct marketing material in England, covering addressed items such as direct mail and unaddressed items including leaflets and inserts.

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