Ben Crossfield

Posted on 1st August 2022
by Ben Crossfield

Does it matter if your mailings are eco?

In January 2022 Royal Mail withdrew its Responsible Mail Service, which came with a discounted mailing rate. Amid a climate emergency, this seems like an odd development.

Our take on this is that sustainable mailings are now accepted as the norm, if you are reaching out to contacts through direct mail, you need to take a planet-centric tact with your approach, or your call to action will not get beyond doormats!

So, with the expectation there from your contacts, what steps can you take to minimise the environmental impact of your mailings?

Eco mailing tactics

  1. Design your direct mail components to an optimised size – Your postcard, letter and envelope will be fit for purpose, whilst being a standard sheet size, e.g. an A5, A4 folded letter, printed on both sides and inserted into a C5 or DL envelope. This will minimise paper use, and cost, in the production processes that follow.
  2. Use an environmental message or imprint within your design – Showcase how you’ve thought about the sustainability of your mailing item, as one example, we can help you meet the requirements for using the Love Paper® logo. Also, remind our contacts that they can recycle your mailing. Note that in many parts of the country, the standard window in envelopes can’t be recycled.
  3. Give clear information about how contacts can unsubscribe from receiving information – This is good for your reputation and minimising waste created by future mailings to the same dataset.
  4. Add sustainable paper stock to your print specification – Look for paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC™). Both schemes ensure that the raw material of wood fibre is sourced from sustainable forests, where land is responsibly managed, natural habitats of plants and animals are conserved and the rights of forestry workers and local communities are respected. Recycled paper is a further option, yet it is important that you select paper with the highest level of ‘post-consumer waste paper’ aim for 100%.
  5. Avoid non-recyclable print finishes – Give your paper the chance to be reimagined as another paper product in the future! Certain print embellishments, such as traditional foiling, or the most widely available laminating film will mean that an item needs to be disposed of through general waste, not a recycling bin.
  6. Find a print partner with sustainable values – Their environmental management system will address many sustainable approaches, including the use of renewable energy, vegetable-based inks, waste minimisation strategies and more! If the approach is certified through an accreditation such as ISO 14001, even better!
  7. Avoid outer packaging or think carefully about how information is enclosed – Perhaps your mailing can be sent as a ‘naked mail’ item, with no outer packaging? It’s an approach inherent to postcards and popular with catalogues. If your mailing is confidential or includes loose inserts, think about paper mailing wrap that can be recycled, or potato starch polywrap that is biodegradable.
  8. Only produce what you need – Whilst you quickly gain economies of scale with print quantities, either make the content of your mailing generic enough, such that you can use up items at a later date, or order only what you need, to avoid waste.
  9. Cleanse your contact data – You’ll waste materials and money if your database is not well maintained, which is also a legal requirement for data controllers under GDPR. Data cleansing can involve postal address correction, de-duplication and deceased and gone away suppression. For marketing mail, you should also screen your contacts against the Mail Preference Service, to remove individuals who have opted out of receiving unsolicited mail, they won’t appreciate your approach and it could get you into hot water with the Advertising Standards Association.
  10. Give Royal Mail credit where its due – They say that acting in a responsible and sustainable way is their top priority. We’re seeing more sustainable strategies and guidance from them, with lots more of their electric vehicles on the road.


So in summary, from developing your mailing project to its delivery on doormats, your project can have sustainability central to it, with a little help from Systematic. This effort will no doubt be valued by your contacts and reflected in the action they take. Better for the environment, better for return on investment, win-win!

Shall we improve the sustainability of your mail campaigns?

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