Junk Mail Costs More Than the Paper It’s Written On

So why aren’t the councils doing more to stop it?

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The recent fines imposed on publishers of LondonLite and The London Paper by Westminster Council raises questions for residents in other areas whose council tax also goes towards recycling free sheets and junk mail. No one with a letter box can avoid the deluge of junk mail that comes through on a daily basis – but is it costing us more than simply the bother of having to recycle it?

Local councils are continuously creating new incentives to encourage residents to be greener. Indeed even Mayor Ken Livingstone (ironically the man behind the free sheet The Londoner which is delivered to hundreds of thousands of residents across the capital) claims his budget this year is his greenest yet. Though just two years ago he was blasted by Cllr. Darren Johnson AM, Leader of the Green Party Group in the London Assembly for spending “twice as much on propaganda news-sheet than he spends on environment.”

Ealing Council, whose recycling budget stands £3.2million a year, collects around 700 tonnes of paper from the kerbside and 60-80 tonnes at the neighbourhood recycling sites/re-use and recycling centres every month – that’s 9,360 tonnes of paper a year in just one London Borough. Although, along with Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils, they continue to publish free monthly magazines distributed through the letterboxes of residents across their boroughs and claim to be powerless against junk mail.

A spokesperson for Ealing Council said about junk mail “Unfortunately council's have very little scope to control it, save from the issuing of 'no junk mail' stickers to residents as part of waste minimisation activities. Residents can email recyclingteam@ealing.gov.uk and stickers will be mailed out.”

Since the introduction of the two free sheets, Westminster Council says it has to collect an extra 1,000 tonnes of paper a year. A council spokesperson stated "We have the power in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act to ban the free distribution of literature in our area,"

February 24, 2007