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DUH requires an opt-out system to stop spam overload


Environmental Action Germany (DUH) has renewed calls for free newspapers and leaflets to be ‘on’, not ‘off’, after a survey found that virtually no German companies are prepared to stop unaddressed – and often unwanted – mailings – advertising booklets.

DUH requires promotional mail to be opt-in

Last year, DUH launched a campaign for a changing the rules to opt-in only to promotional mailto combat the “flood of advertising junk” that people in Germany receive in the post. DUH estimates that around 28 billion unsolicited advertising brochures are pushed through people’s inboxes every year – the equivalent of one per person every day of the year.

As well as being annoying, DUH claims that all this unwanted advertising is causing huge environmental damage as around 42 billion liters are used water4.3 billion kilowatt-hours energy and 1.6 million tons of wood each year.

DUH pointed to the example of c The Dutch city of Amsterdam, which introduced an opt-in system in 2018 to reduce unnecessary ad spend. By locality municipalitythis scheme saves about 6,000 tonnes of paper per year.

Germany says individual companies can decide, but few are willing

In Germany, however, the government refused to take legislative action and said individual retailers must change their marketing strategies. The Ministry of Justice said that this could be prevented by such legislative obstacles as the freedom of advertising enshrined in the Constitution.

Six months later, DUH conducted a survey which they say shows that “the majority of German sales companies do not want to stop the huge waste of resources and energy caused by unsolicited advertising booklets”. Once again, they call on the government to intervene.

DUH contacted 37 major German retailers and asked if they were considering dropping their print advertising. Giants such as Aldi Süd, Rewe and Rossman showed no desire to change their ways, with seven justifying the use on the grounds that their brochures are printed on recycled materials, while 26 other retailers simply did not respond.

Junk mail wastes energy and resources, says DUH

“Conserving energy and resources has never been more important than now,” said DUH Federal Managing Director Barbara Metz. “We cannot afford to produce billions of printed advertising booklets that then end up in the landfill unread. As our survey showed, most retailers are not ready for major changes. That’s why the environment minister [Steffi] Lemke must take countermeasures with permission.”

Under an opt-in system, DUH argued, anyone who wants to receive promotional mail can continue to do so, while people who don’t want to receive nothing. Additional resources could be saved, DUH added international companies the shift to online advertising through mailing lists and digital brochures. It’s a strategy recently adopted by Swedish furniture company Ikea, as well as retailers such as Kik and Woolworth in Germany.

In response to the request of dpaThe Federal Ministry of Justice said that “no legislative initiative of the corresponding law was planned” on the matter.

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