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August 5, 2003 12:00 AM

Royal Mail VanAhead of today's expected announcement by DEFRA that it has agreed junk mail recycling targets with the Direct Marketing Association, Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, said:

"The test of this agreement between DEFRA and the Direct Marketing Association will be whether or not the Government succeeds in reducing the amount of waste created by direct mailing.

"While this agreement appears to be a step in the right direction, it is difficult not to be sceptical given the sheer enormity of the problem.

"There must be some element of compulsion to ensure that the junk mail companies keep their side of the deal."

Almost ¼ of Europe's recorded junk mail is sent in the UK

Junk mail has more than doubled in the UK since 1990

Only Germany has more junk mail than Britain in Europe

Norman Baker MP added:

"The Government accepts that the 'four R's' approach to waste reduction (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover) is the most effective, but has failed to explore the first two steps.

"DEFRA should be promoting the Mailing Preference Service, which blocks junk mail leading to an automatic reduction in waste.

"A national doorstep recycling system must also be put in place to deal with rising junk mail, as well as other materials, and to stop the headlong rush towards incineration and landfill. 'Burn and bury Britain' must end now."