Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has urged the direct marketing industry to advertise the Mailing Preference Service on all direct mail.
Speaking at the Marketing Direct Green Conference, Roy Hathaway, head of waste management at Defra, indicated that Government expects the direct marketing industry to improve its environmental policies. Mr Hathaway had two suggestion for the industry; marketers could include 'Recycle Now' logos on junk mail and advertise the Mailing Preference Service service on all addressed junk mail.
Voluntary codes vs government regulation
The conference, organised by Marketing Direct Magazine, looked at how marketeers can profit from green policies and can be seen in the context of the waste strategy white paper, published in May this year. In the white paper, Government said the marketing industry should do more to reduce waste and that it will consider the introduction of an opt-in system for direct mail if the industry fails to introduce measures that reduce waste.
Government wishes to see the amount of unwanted 'direct mail' minimised. It is estimated that junk mail accounts for around 550,000 tonnes of paper waste per annum.
Mr Hathaway repeated Government prefers volutary codes of practice over government regulation. However, he also warned the conference that an opt in scheme for addressed junk mail is still "a concept Defra wants to discuss".
Blunt axe response
The idea to include notification of the Mailing Preference Service on all direct mail was rejected by Robert Keitch, director of Media Channel Development and Environment at the Direct Marketing Association. Mr Keitch said that advertising the Mailing Preference Service on direct mail would be an "unsophisticated and blunt axe response." Instead, brands should be able to put their own 'unsubscribe label' on their material. According to Mr Keitch this would safeguard marketeers' commercial freedom, while giving consumers the option to "choose their preferences."