Fears over opening junk mail floodgate

Royal Mail's plans to scrap limits on the amount of junk mail it will deliver have angered council leaders who will have to deal with a surge in waste.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has written to Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, expressing concerns about proposals to abolish the current limit of three unaddressed items per week being delivered to any single home or business.

Last year saw the Royal Mail delivering 3.3 billion items of unaddressed mail – an increase of 12.5% on the previous year. The move to boost this would increase the 78,000 tonnes of junk mail that ends up in landfill sites each year.

Delivering promotional material is a big growth area for Royal Mail, however, and plans to remove the self-imposed limit appear to make good commercial sense.

A spokesman for the LGA told edie of the organisation’s frustration over the situation.

“It costs about £2.6 billion to collect and dispose of waste every year and we want to see the amount of waste people are producing going down, not up,” he said.

He said funding from central Government was unlikely to be increased and any future legislation which might allow councils to charge for collection by weight is a long way off.

Putting public pressure on producers of waste is one of the few avenues left open to local authorities, he said.

“We’re hamstrung on this, if we send a stern letter in private, they will probably ignore us,” he said.

“All we can do is raise awareness and hope that the public will put pressure on them.”

In his letter, LGA chairman Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said: “I am concerned that the expansion in junk mail will lead to an increase in the amount of paper that is either thrown into landfill or has to be collected in recycling bins. This comes at a time when councils are trying to minimise waste, increase recycling and are striving to provide value for money to the taxpayer.

“Every extra tonne of rubbish that goes into landfill costs the taxpayer an extra £100, and any steps that can reduce this cost is one less burden on the hard pressed council taxpayer.

“More junk mail for services people do not want or need will only lead to an increase in the amount of unnecessary rubbish created and could place further pressures on the council taxpayer through no fault of either the council or local people.”

In the meantime, said the LGA spokesman, the public could help their local waste manager and themselves by signing up for the free Mailing Preference Service which aims to remove addresses from mailing lists, reducing junk mail within two months, or myletterbox.co.uk which allows users to specify the kind of mail they do and do not wish to receive.

Royal Mail was unavailable for comment.

Sam Bond

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