FEDMA Outlines Green Practices

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The Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing has adopted a recommendation on the environment and direct mail with best practices for its members.

FEDMA members adopted the recommendation unanimously at the group's general assembly April 27 in Brussels. FEDMA represents direct marketing at the European level. Its national members are the direct marketing associations representing DM users, service providers and media/carriers. FEDMA also has 200 company members and indirectly represents 15,000 firms.

"We need to be very aware that consumers are concerned about environmental waste," said Alistair Tempest, director general of FEDMA. "Sometimes very simple actions can help, such as [national postal services] creating databases for changes of address to make sure that mail is not delivered to the wrong, old address."

FEDMA can issue codes, recommendations or guidelines. Codes are formal, and members must apply them. Guidelines or recommendations are not required "but if you don't do it, you will be censored or get a slap on the wrist," he said.

A code was not issued here, Mr. Tempest said, because it would be difficult for some countries to embark on some of these objectives, while other nations, particularly in western Europe, have had European legislation on the environment for several years.

The best practices are drawn from existing codes and recommendations by DMAs in Europe and elsewhere. Postal operators, particularly La Poste France, helped prepare the recommendation.

One goal is to give national DMAs and other members tools to support further environmentally sound practices in direct mail and to carry out the objectives in their countries. Another is to promote awareness among members, European Union citizens and the media that direct marketing is a responsible industry.

"What we are trying to do is build on the experience of the most experienced countries and try to encourage those countries that are still thinking about environmental sustainability to actually do something and not just waiting until legislation comes along," Mr. Tempest said.

Best practices highlights:

· Suppression files: Members should use relevant suppression files such as mail preference services, national suppression files and, where available, deceased suppression files. Use up-to-date "gone-away" and "mover address" files, which ensure that consumers who have moved do not continue to be sent marketing material at their old address. Ensure that all addresses on undelivered mail lists are blocked from future mailings.

· Unaddressed mail: For each delivery of nonaddressed mail, last-mile delivery operators should adhere to requests for delivery restrictions expressed on letter boxes, such as the "stop pub" stickers. Operators also inform marketers of the number of people involved in this "opt-out" system so that this number can be considered when deciding on the volume of material to be printed and posted.

· Boost collection/recycling of direct mail/promotions material after use: Members should continue to encourage collection and recycling of direct mail/promotional material by raising awareness or encouraging receivers to recycle. Members should maximize their use of recycled paper for direct mail/promotional material where practical.

· Environmentally friendly design and production: Members should favor the eco-design of products or services delivered in a direct marketing campaign. This covers all material, including packaging and envelopes as well as promotional material. Examples of environmentally friendly solutions: recycled paper, recycled plastics, lightweight materials, decreased packaging and elimination of toxic materials.

· Environmental management of distribution activity: Members should encourage the environmental efficiency of distribution centers (energy, water and waste management) and respect relevant environmental laws. Use delivery methods that are environmentally sustainable; for example, through maximizing energy efficiency and the capacity of the transport network, as well as optimizing routes.

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