Direct Mail's Environmental Impact Is Small, USPS Study Says

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A new study from the U.S. Postal Service challenged claims about direct mail's negative impact on the environment.


The study, prepared by a USPS environmental analyst and published internally this week, found that household advertising mail represents 1.8 percent of all waste in the United States and 4.7 percent of paper and paperboard waste.


It also found that though direct mail volume has increased steadily since 1990, the amount that goes in landfills has fallen, from 2.14 million tons to 2.04 million tons in 2002.


The volume of recycled household ad mail rose from 150,000 tons in 1990 to 1.21 million tons in 2000, the study said.


The production of household ad mail consumes only 0.13 percent of the energy used in the United States, less than half of the energy consumed by newspaper and insert production.


Direct mail also has a high success rate, the study said. Though more than 60 percent of households report they wish they received less direct mail, almost 80 percent say they read or scan all the ad mail they get.


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