Tackling unwanted Junk Mail by Andrew RT Davies AM

Penarth Times: Andrew R.T. Davies   Assembley  member Andrew R.T. Davies Assembley member

This month the Conservative Assembly group launched a consultation which is aimed at tackling junk mail. Junk mail is an issue that is raised with me on a regular basis by residents and business from Penarth.

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you that the average Welsh Household receives 453 pieces of unwanted mail a year, almost two thirds of which is discarded, unopened.

We’ve all come back from a holiday to find our doormats covered in junk mail and the cost of having to dispose of this mail to landfill has become a huge burden on the Vale council, which is already under financial strain. It can cost some councils up to £700,000 a year to dispose of its junk mail to landfill. Not only is this an unwelcome burden on the council, but also on the tax payer.

It isn’t just the financial cost of the junk mail that is a serious issue. It’s the environmental cost. In 2012, 550,000 tonnes of paper and 16.5 billion litres of water were used to produce an estimated 17.5 billion pieces of junk mail. These staggering statistics equate to almost 5% of the UK’s annual consumption of paper and board and 9 million trees. The environmental cost is enormous.

Millions of trees are felled for what we regard as rubbish and throw away without a second thought. Our natural resources are precious and finite and we waste them at our peril.

The darker side of junk mail is the millions of scam mail letters that are sent to households every year. This mail is used to target the vulnerable and elderly into parting with their money by bombarding them with scams and swindles. These scams and scams like them are estimated to cost victims up to £3.5 billion a year. In addition to the huge financial cost incurred by the victims, the personal stories are exceptionally distressing for older people – an issue which has been taken up by Age Cymru UK.

So how do we stop it? We have launched a public consultation on a range of measures to tackle this scourge. Here in the Assembly the Conservative group is considering a range of options – including placing a levy on the sender of junk mail items – but we want you to have your say.

We want to start a debate about how this nuisance can be tackled once and for all. That starts by educating people about existing ‘opt-out’ schemes, but may need to go much further to rid this blight from doorsteps up and down the country.

I have no doubt that this issue affects and irritates Penarth residents on a daily basis. That’s why I am so keen to hear your views on what measures we should be taking to put a stop to it. To take part all you need to do is go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Junk_Mail or contact my office on 02920898523 if you would like to receive a paper copy of the survey.

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