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[greenyes] [CRRA] Solution for Junk mail at Businesses

Apologies for Cross-Postings

To: CRRA_members@no.address
From: Peter Schultze-Allen <pschultze-allen@no.address>
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 14:47:11 -0700

BayROC is going to do a campaign on Junk Mail Reduction. Here's an article about an organization that is working on the issue too... (with a weblink at the end)

Peter Schultze-Allen
Environmental Analyst
City of Emeryville
1333 Park Ave 94608
fax 596-4389
Environmentally friendly resource helps businesses reduce unwanted mail

The EcoLogical Mail Coalition offers a free solution to businesses that are
burdened by stacks of undeliverable catalogs, brochures and magazines that
are mailed to employees for years after they've been terminated.

What Is the Problem?

Businesses are burdened by stacks of undeliverable catalogs, brochures and
magazines that are mailed to employees for years after they've been

It's a simple problem that occurs naturally with business mail, and affects
every company of any size:

Employees receive a tremendous volume of catalogs, brochures, magazines and
other "bulk" mail sent by marketers. (In a survey of Fortune 500 companies,
most estimated this volume to be one-third of their total incoming mail
Unfortunately, much of this mail is addressed to individuals who no longer
work for the company. (In the same survey, companies reported that as much
as half of this mail is undeliverable because it's addressed to former
employees, which means the business incurs cost and hassles receiving,
sorting and disposing of this useless mail.)
The problem isn't fixable by businesses or marketers alone: Businesses have
lacked a simple way to inform marketers which employees have left the
company, and marketers have lacked an efficient method for obtaining this
The end result is that marketers continue to send mail to the contacts they
have on their mailing lists, often for years after employees leave.

How Big of a Problem Is It?

It's costing businesses far more than they realize -- both in time and
dollars -- plus it's exacting a heavy penalty on the environment.

The EcoLogical Mail Coalition estimates that receiving, sorting and
disposing of undeliverable bulk mail costs businesses an average of $18.28
per former employee who continues receiving bulk mail.

What's the Real Impact?

With marketers mailing to former employees for years, and annual turnover
rates exceeding 30 percent, the problem compounds and the impact becomes

It's time-consuming for already overburdened mail operations, adding as many
as 200 additional pieces to their incoming mail stream per former employee.

It costs the environment, as well:

Each former employee who continues receiving mail generates 100 pounds of
solid waste, which ends up in local landfills.
One tree is consumed to create the undeliverable mail pieces that continue
to be mailed to each former employee.

Following are actual estimates the EcoLogical Mail Coalition computed for a
Fortune 500 company with 20,000 current employees:

Number of Former Employees Still Receiving Mail -- 17,500

Additional Pieces of Undeliverable Mail Received -- 945,000

Man-hours Wasted Sorting and Disposing of Undeliverable Mail -- 5,400

Annual Cost to Company -- $91,378

Tons of Waste Created -- 177

Number of Trees Consumed -- 4,253

*Source: EcoLogical Mail Coalition

Why Has It Not Been Easy to Fix?

Marketers lack critical information -- which individuals have left a company
-- yet this information isn't available from any public source.

Direct marketers would prefer not to mail to outdated contacts, but they
don't know which names on their mailings lists are outdated:

The United States Postal Service (USPS) doesn't track this information; the
USPS's responsibility ends at the point mail is successfully delivered to a
valid business address.
Therefore existing USPS tools such as National Change of Address, which
works for consumer mail, fail to track individual contact moves between

The only party who knows all of the employees who have left a company is the
employer itself. However:

Employers don't publicly report this information, so there's not an easy way
for marketers to get access to the data.
With average annual turnover rates greater than 30 percent, according to the
U.S. Department of Labor, the problem compounds over years as more employees
leave and marketers continue mailing.

How Did Creating a Coalition Solve the Problem?

The Coalition serves as a clearinghouse, making it easy and efficient for
marketers to identify whom to remove from their mailing lists when employees
are terminated.

In the past, enterprising businesses and marketers have attempted to contact
each other to update contacts on mailers' lists. But with thousands of
marketers targeting hundreds of thousands of businesses, doing so has proved
impractical, costly and time-consuming.

That's why the EcoLogical Mail Coalition was formed:

An innovative approach was needed in order to create a truly efficient and
effective solution, one that involves both marketers and the businesses
receiving mail.
The Coalition acts as an independent "clearinghouse", maintaining a
national, industry-wide database of outdated contact information (i.e.,
former employees).
Businesses go online to submit former employee information to the
Coalition's database of outdated contacts.
Marketers then compare their mailing lists to the Coalition's database, and
flag matching records for removal.

The result is a simple solution that truly reduces waste and increases
efficiency for everyone:

Businesses benefit because they report former employees once, yet eliminate
mail from being sent by hundreds of marketers.
Marketers benefit from a single, electronic match process through which they
can identify thousands of former employees from thousands of companies; not
only do they save money by not sending undeliverable mail, they eliminate
the costly processing of manual updates they've traditionally received from
individual businesses.
The environment benefits because solid waste is eliminated and trees are not
consumed since it prevents undeliverable direct mail pieces from being
created initially (unlike recycling programs, which simply reuse waste).

What Are the Results to Date?

The Coalition's database already contains more than 850,000 former employees
from more than 20,000 companies.
Fifty-one of the Fortune 500, and 28 universities and colleges have joined.
The Coalition's database has been compared against more than 160-million
names from direct marketer's mailing lists.
More than one-million matching names have been identified for removal.
Participating businesses and marketers have reaped a potential, cumulative
cost savings of $769,598.

To learn more and to sign up, visit

Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485

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