Friday, August 29, 2008

Apr 1, 2006 12:00 PM , By Dick Goldsmith and Meta Brophy

Several years ago, McDonald's started serving Big Macs in paper containers instead of Styrofoam holders. The reason? Environmental groups took issue with the amount of Styrofoam winding up in landfills, almost never to be decomposed.

By making the switch to paper, McDonald's saved $12 million a year on oil. The company also saved a lot of Styrofoam, a non-renewable resource, from going into landfills and did wonders for its corporate image. These three points — saving money, saving resources and being a good corporate citizen — are the components of the triple bottom line.

Everyone should be concerned about the environment, but those in direct mail should be especially sensitive. After all, the first complaint many people make about direct mail is “Look at the waste of trees in my mailbox.” As more legislative bodies contemplate do-not-mail lists, this is something to consider.

Being proactive will help to mitigate this argument, aid the environment, and save mailers money as they improve their corporate and industry image. So what can individual mailers do? First, don't think it's just up to the big boys to switch to recycled paper. As the old public service ads used to say, “Every litter bit helps.”

Start at the beginning when you plan a new campaign. Design with the environment in mind.

  • Do you need to have a poly window on your envelope? The poly makes it much more difficult to recycle. Use an open window or glassine patch made from cellulose. Some marketers are using a corn-film-based window patch. It's biodegradable and made from a renewable resource.

  • Can you reduce the size of your mailing piece? If it's smaller you'll use less paper and save money on printing (see illustration).

  • Speaking of smaller, can you use a self-mailer or postcard? Again, you'll use less paper and pay less for printing and for inserting fewer components. In other words, can you effectively generate response while having a lower environmental impact?

  • Use a preprinted indicia or a meter on your outer envelopes. Self-adhesive stamps make the envelopes more difficult to recycle. The same is true for other pressure-sensitive stickers: Try to avoid using them.

  • Print on both sides of the paper. And try using a lighter weight paper or a slightly smaller roll size. As long as the opacity is OK, you shouldn't be affecting response.

  • Look into using groundwood paper, which is made using a mechanical pulping process instead of the chemical procedure used to make freesheet paper. It takes about 50% fewer trees to make an equivalent amount of paper and many groundwood sheets look pretty good these days. Check out Abitibi Consolidated's equal offset grade or its new innovative offset. It's 20% lighter than the equivalent sheet with a comparable look and feel. Fewer trees are used to make a groundwood sheet.

  • Check with your printers to see if you're making the best use of their press sizes. By reducing the size of a component by just a little you may get more pieces out of each press sheet

  • Find out if similar components can be run on the same press sheet.

  • Do you really need four-color process printing for that rate chart? Maybe two colors will work just as well.

  • With a personalized piece, try to make all changes in the data. By keeping different lots in a single stream, you'll save money by eliminating additional plates, paper and ink. Streamlining data saves version and setup charges, too.

    Catalogers can implement these ideas as well.

  • Check trim size and find out from your printer if it's using the best size for the equipment.

  • Can you use a lighter weight paper? It's possible to save on postage if you're paying a piece/pound rate. In any event, you'll save on freight and fuel if you ship a lighter piece. Test to find out.

  • Can your catalog be as productive with fewer pages? Do a careful analysis of each item to make sure it's pulling its weight.

  • Use selective binding so customers get fewer — but more relevant — pages.

  • Are a lot of people using those bound-in envelopes to place orders? Check to see if the cost is worth it for your catalog.

  • Ask your suppliers about their environmental policies and internal practices. Online proofing provides many environmental savings. Ask your printer if it stocks recycled or certified paper, and tracks chain of custody. Does the printer use soy inks? Does it recycle wastepaper and ink?

  • Make sure you use all the tools available — targeting, modeling, merge/purge and USPS address correction — to facilitate mail delivery to your best prospects. Also, use the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. If people don't want your mail, why waste money and resources sending it to them?

  • Try to print near your lettershop to avoid extra transportation miles and costs. Use drop shipping to get your mail to its destination in the most direct manner. Ask whether your supplier or drop-ship destination can accept rail-side deliveries. Rail shipping uses much less fuel than trucking. If you're sending a large national mailing, it might make sense to split production to more than one shop to economize on transportation.

What can you do right now? Develop an environmental policy statement for your company. Appoint an environmental leader who will carry the ball and has management support. Put together a team of employees who also are concerned. Measure results, just like you measure all the other things you do in direct marketing. Take action and then reinvest your savings in additional initiatives. Seek partnerships with other companies, environmental organizations and the community groups where you do business.

Finally, let everyone know what you've accomplished. And encourage customers to recycle what they've received from you.

Article found here.


Paper Power

Recycled paper use — and better collection — can benefit direct mailers

If your company already has a control that possibly could be improved from an environmental standpoint, start slowly by testing every component. Like all other testing, test only one change at a time. It's a slow, evolutionary process, so start with the items that can have the biggest impact, like printing on both sides of a piece of paper.

Many people think switching to paper with recycled content is all that's required to help the environment. It does help. But other things can have a greater impact. When considering recycled paper, think post-consumer content, which is actually recovered from recycling programs. The more post-consumer fiber we use, the greater the demand grows, capturing the attention of more paper companies that might be more inclined to make an effort to collect and recycle.

Collection is a big issue. One of the bigger problems associated with collection is that so many people live in remote areas and collection is economically prohibitive. One idea that seems to make a lot of sense and warrants further discussion is for the U.S. Postal Service to use its vehicles to collect paper from these areas. The vehicles go out with mail every day; they could come back with recyclable paper. The USPS already has a recycling program for undeliverable mail and has trash bins in post offices. This would expand the program and provide an additional revenue stream, which the USPS certainly can use.

Environmentalists also are concerned with preserving our old-growth forests, which provide unique ecosystems for plant and animal life. Clear-cutting — the felling and removal of all trees from a given tract of forest — can destroy these ecosystems. Therefore, programs now exist by which the forestry practices of paper companies can be certified by independent auditors. Look for and ask your firm's printers to buy paper made from trees harvested under one of these forestry certification programs.
Dick Goldsmith and Meta Brophy

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