DM industry prepares for Panorama attack on “junk” mail

The direct mail industry’s effectiveness in reducing the environmental impact of direct mail will be questioned in the BBC’s Panorama tonight (4 July).

A preview on the broadcaster’s website poses the question “why hate junk mail?”.

The preview continues: “It invades our homes, dropping onto our doormats in its millions and costs the taxpayer a fortune to get rid of. It might be a menace in our mailbox but without junk mail, would our postal service survive?”

It is thought that the show will investigate the environmental damage of discarded direct mail and industry efforts to reduce the impact and the channel’s effectiveness.

Representatives from the industry will defend efforts to reduce waste, such as the Direct Marketing Association and BSi environmental standard called PAS 2020, and improvements in targeting.

It will also probe whether Royal Mail makes money from direct mail services. The postal operator’s role, or “addiction to”, as the preview describes it, scam mail – fake lotteries, prize draws and unsubstantive health cures – is also investigated.

It is not thought that anyone from Royal Mail was interviewed for the show. It has, however, issued a statement defendeding itself against accusations that it profits from scam mail.

A spokesman says: “Royal Mail is determined to do all it can to root out scam mail. We very much understand the upset and disquiet that scam mail can cause households across the country, including vulnerable people.

“We do not want our postmen or women handling or delivering mail that causes harm. We have made significant progress in our efforts to root out scam mail as we intensify our drive against it.”

Royal Mail is working with the Metropolitan Police and Serious Organised Crime Agency on Operation Sterling in a bid to stop scam mail at source.

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