Press release

New service for householders to stop unwanted advertising mail

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A package of measures will reduce the amount of unwanted advertising mail produced and cut waste through greater recycling.

Householders will have more control to stop the tonnes of unwanted advertising mail that drops through peoples’ letter boxes each year, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced today.

A new free-to-use website is being set-up as part of a joint Defra and direct marketing industry deal so householders can opt-out of receiving all types of advertising mail. This replaces the current out-dated system, where households have to register on three separate websites or apply by post to stop the different types of unwanted direct mail from being delivered.

Under the new deal, a package of measures will reduce the amount of unwanted advertising mail produced and cut waste through greater recycling.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

“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.

“This also throws down the gauntlet to those companies hand-delivering brochures and fast-food menus to respect ‘no junk mail’ signs and only deliver what people want.” 

Executive Director for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Chris Combemale said:

“We know that many types of advertising mail are welcomed by consumers, such as supermarket discount offers. Of course, 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.”

The website, which is scheduled to go live in April 2012, is just one aspect of a wide-ranging agreement that Defra has struck with the DMA, the professional body representing the UK’s direct marketing industry. The current means of opting out include the Mailing Preference Service, the Your Choice Preference System and Royal Mail’s Door to Door opt-out service.

The three-year agreement will see the industry undertake a number of initiatives to contribute to the government’s plans to move towards a zero-waste economy.

By 2014, the amount of unwanted direct mail hitting door mats will fall significantly through the marketing industry increasing its current use of suppression lists - which includes opt-out, do not contact and gone-away lists - by 25 per cent.

Companies are also being asked to produce all direct mail from recyclable paper that has originated from a certified sustainable source, or made from recycled paper.

The DMA will develop a carbon calculator for paper direct marketing material by the end of 2013 so that businesses can see the carbon footprint of the direct mail they produce and deliver and take action to lower it.

The direct mail responsibility deal fulfils a commitment in the Government’s Waste Review announced in June.


The Responsibility Deal with the Direct Marketing Association can be found here:

Further information on waste and recycling can be found here:

The opt-out website will be launched in April 2012 following consultation with industry members to ensure a smooth switch over between the current methods of opting out, and the new website.

Industry puts estimates for the current volume for direct mail at nine billion items of unaddressed mail and 1.7 billion of addressed direct mail.

The average household receives more than 300 items of unaddressed and 77 items of addressed mail a year.

According to Royal Mail 17.7m people bought from a posted catalogue last year.

380,000 tonnes of direct marking material were produced in 2009, of which almost 80 per cent was recycled.

The DMA’s carbon calculator will be based on the joint Defra/BIS/Carbon Trust PAS2050 standard for carbon footprint calculation.