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One year after agreement: Britain is still junk mail joke of Europe - Baker

August 5, 2004 12:00 AM

Royal Mail VanOne year on from the Government's agreement with the Direct Mail industry to reduce the amount of junk mail through letterboxes, the Liberal Democrats can reveal that junk mail is already increasing.

On 5th August 2003, DEFRA announced an initiative that would "cut the amount of direct mail delivered to British homes." Despite that pledge, junk mail delivery in Britain was 3.8% higher in the first quarter of 2004, compared to the same period in 2003.

Since 1997, Britain has been one of the top three junk mail producers in Europe, with only Germany being consistently worse.

Liberal Democrat research reveals:

Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, has called on the Government to implement a system of penalties for those companies who deliver to homes that have opted-out of junk mail.

He said:

"Once again Britain is being left behind by its European partners on reducing unwanted mail. Last year's voluntary agreement between DEFRA and the Direct Marketing Association is simply not enough, and the latest figures show that it is already failing.

"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.

"The direct mail problem needs direct action. The Government should introduce a scheme, similar to that in France, where companies pledge not to deliver junk mail to households displaying a sticker on their door and face fines if they do so.

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

"The constant bombarding of homes with offers and promotions resulted in 5.9 billion pieces of paper through letterboxes in the last year alone. People have a right to say no to unwanted mail, and for that right to be upheld by the law."