Use of Recycled Paper Holds Steady, Study Finds

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About half the direct mail marketers and printers who responded to a survey by the Direct Marketing Association used recycled coated or uncoated papers in their 1997 promotions, a figure that has held steady for the last four years.

The DMA said a portion of the firms surveyed appear to have mainstreamed recycled paper use as a regular part of their business strategy.

Of the almost 70 respondents to the DMA survey who used recycled paper -- which was defined as containing at least 10 percent post-consumer content -- the most frequently cited reasons were the reusing of a valuable fiber resource and meeting customer expectations.

Thirty-five percent reported testing recycled paper with at least 10 percent post-consumer content, down from 46 percent of respondents two years ago. The number of respondents that tested 20 percent post-consumer recycled paper fell to 29 percent from 37 percent two years ago.

Some firms continue to cite cost as a barrier. Though the survey points to cost as the greatest inhibitor to using recycled coated paper or uncoated paper, less than half of the respondents noticed any price change in 1997. Among the respondents, 27 percent reported an increase in price while 12 percent indicated that prices decreased.

The survey also found a decline in the percentage of mailers and printers using environmental labels to indicate that they use recycled paper, to 46 percent in 1997 from 59 percent in 1995. Respondents most frequently pointed to labels' failure to improve response rates as their reason for dropping them.

Other environmental business practices found by the survey include using electronic media as an alternative or complement to direct mail, which was cited by 45 percent of respondents, and the use of lighter paper, cited by 41 percent. Only about a quarter of the survey's respondents said they reduced the size of their mail packages in 1997, down considerably from the 51 percent who indicated the same in 1995.

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