If we want to reduce consumption of paper, an obvious target is junk mail. In the UK, Royal Mail posts more than 60,000 tons of junk mail every year. That’s more than 600 unsolicited letters per person. Royal Mail makes billions by posting waste paper.
When Roger Annies, a postman in Wales, produced a leaflet explaining to his customers that there is a way of stopping junk mail, he was suspended on full pay pending inquiries.
The publicity generated meant that Royal Mail’s phone lines were jammed and its e-mail stopped working. Obviously few people want junk mail. Royal Mail justifies it on the grounds that it helps keep postage prices down.
Increasing postal prices can have a significant impact on paper demand. In the US, postal rates are set to go up by 8% in spring 2007. RISI comments, “We are predicting a 3.6% decline in Standard Mail postal volumes for 2007, which translates into a loss of 220,000 tons of paper demand. Additional losses will also occur in periodicals, bound printed matter, and first class mail, and the total amount of paper moving through the postal system could decline about 400,000 tons after the rate hike in 2007 (most likely in April).”