Defra and the DMA have joined forces to create an opt-out website in which consumers can say no to all types of junk mail, as part of a new waste-reducing deal between the two. Alex Blackburne delves into the world of direct marketing to find out more.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) claims that the average household receives nearly 400 items of unwanted mail through their letterboxes each year – more than 300 of which are unaddressed.
On top of this, it estimates that there are nine billion items of unaddressed mail and 1.7 billion items of addressed direct mail, being posted into our homes in the UK on an annual basis.
Waste Watch provides the startling figure that around nine million trees are sacrificed each year in order for us to receive mail that is essentially, more often than not, going straight in the bin without assessment.
To combat this, Defra and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) are planning to put the direct marketing (DM) industry’s physical waste and carbon emission levels up for scrutiny.
This will be done under a new Voluntary Producer Responsibility (VPR) deal. Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA, explained more about the agreement.
“The key theme is ‘doing it better’ – by reducing unnecessary direct marketing and making sure that what’s produced meets a specification that minimises the impact on the environment.
“The deal provides the perfect answer to criticism of direct marketing by demonstrating that we’re a responsible industry that’s taking positive action to minimise our environmental impact.”
The deal sees the DMA and Defra join forces to create a brand new, free-to-use website, in which consumers can opt-out of receiving all types of advertising mail.
Under the current system, households have to either register on one of three separate services – the Mailing Preference Service, the Your Choice Preference System and Royal Mail’s Door-to-Door opt-out service – or apply by post, to stop the different types of unwanted direct mail from being delivered.
Joe Cicero, head of Consumer Focus Labs, whose website StayPrivate.org also offers an online opt-out service for both unwanted mail and telephone marketing, praised Defra and the DMA’s new scheme, saying that they “Welcome the initiative”.
As well as the proposed website, the VPR deal between Defra and the DMA will aim to increase the direct marketing (DM) industry’s current use of suppression files, which is the contact details of consumers who have already opted out, by 25% by 2014.
They will also maintain public awareness of the consumer preference services and retain established direct mail recycling rates.
Picture source: Rupert Ganzer