New deal will allow people to opt out of receiving direct mail for environmental reasons

The Voluntary Producer Responsibility Deal, worked out by the Direct Marketing Association and Defra, establishes commitments for the industry, including charities

Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA
Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA

A new website will allow people to opt out of receiving all kinds of direct mail for environmental reasons, thanks to a new agreement between the Direct Marketing Association and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Voluntary Producer Responsibility deal commits the direct marketing industry, including charities that use direct mail, to cutting physical waste and carbon emissions over the next three years.

The agreement includes setting up the new website and a commitment for organisations that send direct mail to increase their use of suppression lists – lists of people who do not want to be or should not be contacted by advertisers – by 25 per cent by 2014.

Companies are also being asked to produce all direct mail from recyclable paper that has originated from a certified sustainable source, or has been made from recycled paper.

Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA, said: "The deal provides the perfect answer to criticism of direct marketing by demonstrating that we’re a responsible industry that’s taking positive action to minimise our environmental impact."

Simon Morrison, director of marketing and communications at the Institute of Fundraising, said it would be interesting to see what impact these new standards would have on fundraising.

"A one-stop shop that enables people to suppress unwanted mailings will make it easier to opt out of receiving post from certain sources," he said. "However, it’s unlikely this will harm the good relationships fundraisers have already established with warm direct mail donors."

Nick Pride, managing director of the direct marketing agency DMS, said that if the new system made it easier for people to exercise their preferences, that had to be good news.

"In the long term it will work against us if we make it difficult for people to opt out," he said.

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