Council to rethink junk mail fine after TRMC lobbying

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Wellington City Council has postponed a vote on enacting a by-law that would have seen fines implemented for putting print into letterboxes marked no junk mail. The postponement follows lobbying from The Real Media Collective.

Lobbying win: Junk mail fines stayed for consideration
Lobbying win: Junk mail fines stayed for consideration

TRMC lobbied all councillors and the mayor, challenging the presumption from the council that print is bad for the environment and the broader Wellington community, with success. The by-law has been stayed and the council agreed to consult the community and industry for more information to accurately vote on the issue.

The association rejected the claims that catalogue and print deliveries to the letterbox are creating litter and waste to landfill to Wellington streets. TRMC highlighted that the channel is part of a large industry that employs 21,000 New Zealanders, of which 10,000 are walkers who distribute to the letterbox directly, and the remaining work across the print sector across 6500 small to medium sized businesses.

It also outlined that the paper and print industry is a large contributor to the New Zealand economy, which the association claims, government often overlooks.

“Local manufacturing is key to keeping Kiwis in jobs and the paper, print and letterbox sector continue to be harassed by misinformation about the channel. I have been working across the paper and print sector for close to twenty years and continue to be amazed comments or even bylaws being developed with misperceptions about print in general. I encourage all levels of government to contact the industry before making ambiguous claims such as these,” TRMC CEO Kellie Northwood said.

“Walkers are often those seeking supplementary income, are retired, new entrants to the workforce, those on disability benefits and doing their absolute best to do their job. On the odd occasion, numbers lower than one per cent error rate are recorded. Yes, on occasion a walker may make a mistake and a process is implemented to work through that error. However, I do remain perplexed when government applies different levels of scrutiny. If we were all scrutinised in such a way in our day to day jobs it would be considered unfair conduct by the employer, however these comments place walkers on another level and it is entirely prejudicial,” Northwood said.

Environmental claims against the catalogue and print channel have also been criticised. New Zealand is 100 per cent planted forest industry which means trees for paper production are harvested and replanted in accordance with regrowth harvesting technologies, increasing local species, supporting biodiversity and providing strong carbon sinks. In particular, catalogues are 100 per cent recyclable via the standard household recycling bins.

“As an industry we often face these comments and labelling as junk mail, which is disappointing, particularly when it comes from governments. However, we know the environmental credentials of this channel is higher than other channels, e-waste is a significant issue globally, whereas paper is 100 per cent recyclable and from a renewable resource,” Northwood said.

“We also know the letterbox channel is also one of the most powerful channels to communicate to households with weekly specials, vouchers, product ranges, and other benefits for customers that retailers are offering.

“Research shows 73 per cent of Kiwis read catalogues because they find them a helpful shopping tool and 62 per cent read them to save money, critical in the post-Covid period we currently face. When managing any complaints about distribution, the highest level of complaints is when people don’t receive their catalogues." Northwood said.

"Consider a rugby match not playing any ads and people ringing up complaining that they didn’t have any ads played. It would be unheard of. However, catalogues are a sought-after channel. For those not wanting to receive, place a ‘No advertising material’ on the letterbox and we will not deliver to those letterboxes. For those that support Kiwi jobs to stay in the community, prefer an environmentally-friendly marketing channel and want to save money keep your letterbox open."

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