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Councils to profit from recycling waste direct mail

Councils to profit from recycling waste direct mail

Waste generated from used advertising mail is being turned into a money spinner by two savvy Surrey borough councils thanks to a recycling deal which is set to net them £2 million over the next two years.

Guildford and Reigate & Banstead borough councils have joined forces for the deal, which involves mixed paper collected by the two councils being sent, after sorting, to be reprocessed at UPM’s Shotton mill in North Wales, reports.

The new deal undermines the unproven claim by Panorama in its July episode entitled Why hate junk mail? that the disposal of waste direct and advertising mail is costing the UK taxpayer an estimated £50 million per year, either through recycling or by going to landfill.

The financial value of the new deal to the councils reinforces the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) campaign to increase the volume of used and unwanted advertising mail being sent for recycling.

In 2004, the DMA signed a voluntary producer agreement with Defra, committing the industry to a target of 70 per cent of all waste direct mail going to recycling by 2013. The industry smashed the target four years ahead of schedule in 2009, reaching an audited level of 76 per cent.

Schemes such as the environmental standard PAS 2020 have been credited with helping the industry to hit its targets. Currently, waste advertising mail comprises 10-15 per cent of the average household’s recyclable waste paper.

Commenting on the council agreements Alex Walsh, head of postal and environmental affairs for the DMA, said: “The myths surrounding the environmental and financial costs of advertising mail have been dispelled by the commercially savvy agreements made by these councils. There is no reason for councils to dispose of used and unwanted advertising mail in costly landfill, and as Guildford and Reigate & Banstead councils have proven, there is money to be made from paper recycling.”

The DMA and Defra are set to sign a new voluntary producer agreement in October.

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