Households will have more control to stop the hundreds of items of junk mail they receive each year, environment secretary Caroline Spelman said on Tuesday.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the direct marketing industry are to set up a free-to-use website so everyone can opt-out of receiving all types of advertising mail. The website, scheduled to go live next April, is intended to replace the current system, where households have to register on three separate services, the Mailing Preference Service, the Your Choice Preference System and Royal Mail's Door-to-Door opt-out service.
Spelman said: "We've all returned home from holidays to be greeted by a mountain of unwanted, unsolicited mail waiting behind the front door, most of which is thrown straight out. These piles of paper irritate householders, waste businesses' money and are environmentally unsustainable.
Consumer association Which? welcomed the move. Richard Lloyd, its executive director, said: "Three in four people want to cut the amount of unwanted mail they receive, which is hardly surprising, given that the average home now gets 453 pieces of junk mail each year. There are lots of hoops you need to jump through if you want to opt out of receiving junk mail at the moment, so proposals to simplify the process are a step in the right direction."
The average household receives more than 300 items of unaddressed and 77 items of addressed mail a year. In 2009, 80,000 tonnes of direct marketing material were produced, of which almost 80% was recycled, according to Defra.
Companies are also being asked to produce all direct mail from recyclable paper that has originated from a certified sustainable source, or made from recycled paper. This deal would fulfil a commitment in the government's Waste Review announced in June.
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