Corporate Responsibility: Direct mail industry to help in planting trees

Georgina Lock

The Woodland Trust is to join forces with the Direct Marketing Association in an effort to improve the marketing industry's environmental performance.

Paper consumption for direct mail is huge, but the DMA says that its new link with the Woodland Trust is one of many steps it is taking to confront the impact direct marketing has on the environment.

The direct marketing industry will aim to plant 10,000 native trees across the country this year - paid for by the DMA and other sponsors of its environmental scheme.

The trust approached the DMA two years ago to try to help the agency with its pledge to make the direct marketing world more environmentally friendly. Gail Wharton, senior corporate fundraiser at the Woodland Trust, said it wanted to get involved to give the marketing industry an incentive to improve the environment through tree planting.

The Woodland Trust will reward DMA members - which include direct marketing agencies, door-to-door distributors, field marketing specialists, mailing houses and response handling specialists - for any environmental improvements they make in their business operations by planting trees on their behalf.

Such improvements in-clude posting fewer items by ensuring data is kept up to date and using more sustainable materials in marketing projects.

Ideas for improving environmental performance will be available on the DMA's website. Businesses will be able to use the site to calculate how many trees will be planted as a result of the positive actions they have taken.

The partnership comes as part of the DMA's contract with the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, signed in 2003, to improve environmental performance within the marketing industry.

Karl Mitchell, director of development at the Woodland Trust, said: "We are delighted to help the direct marketing industry achieve a unique environmental win-win."

David Robotton, director of postal affairs and industry development at the DMA, said: "With the industry getting behind the campaign and making practical changes in line with the objectives set out in our government targets, we can make a real difference."

MONITOR

Pat Venditti, forests campaigner, Greenpeace UK I welcome this move. If it leads to direct mail companies reducing their impact on the environment, all well and good. And there's the benefit of the reward for improving their performance - thousands more native trees being planted across the UK, encouraging native wildlife.

I'm keen to know more about what exactly the DMA means by "using more sustainable materials". Sustainable papers are available right now, but many companies still use paper sourced from ancient forest regions.

Ancient forests are threatened by unsustainable logging practices, leading to widespread deforestation and the curtailing of indigenous peoples' human rights.

Companies should use only post-consumer recycled paper, with any virgin fibre coming from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

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