Tuesday, January 1, 2008

NO JUNK MAIL means local governments must prosecute business litterers

Junk mail - no one reads it, no one wants it - lets put a stop to it!

Dear Councillors

I am very upset when I see that there is practically no visible progress in ending the unsustainable practice of allowing deliveries of huge volumes of junk mail to our homes.

I live in a block of flats on Montague Road, West End. Every mailbox has a sign saying "NO JUNK MAIL", yet the periodicals space next to our mailboxes receives enough for a small army. Furthermore, it blows all over the garden and down the street. I am fed up with having to pick it up. Everywhere I look I see this stuff littering the streets. Montague Road sometimes looks like somewhere in the Third World.

In some streets there is so much junk in the actual mailbox Australia Post cannot deliver the mail the box was designed for, unless they throw the soggy mess onto the ground. Some unoccupied houses have a decade of advertising material scattered in the garden.

Advertisers need to realise that very little of this material is being read and that they are contributing to a socially inequitable situation where the whole community is paying for someone to remove this rubbish that is foisted upon us. Many Body Corporates could decide to form a class action and sue the deliverers of junk mail to stop them from littering the properties they represent. But why should we have to do this when we elect a local authority to do things like this for us?

If you are a business that advertises this way, the name of your company on a piece of paper that litters the street could be working against you. The message to the public will be that you don't care about the trashing of our environment, the obscene waste of paper or the resultant wastes. We could decide to organise boycotts against your company if you persist.

I rang Brisbane City Council. They were not sure whether litter was really their legal responsibility (who else?). The Council does employ some litter inspectors, I am waiting with baited breath to know how many, what their powers are and how many major prosecutions they have launched. Obviously, if they need to actually see someone dropping the paper on the street (our private properties do not count), then they will never prosecute anyone.

It is time for an improvement in the way we do things. We are way past the time when this type of practice should end. There must be some really effective legislation in The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark - or, if you don't like public servants going on junkets - try Singapore. Business as usual is simply unacceptable.

This is a problem in all parts of Australia. There were 8.2 billion articles of advertising material delivered in 2005. This will have grown to over 9 billion in 2007. In 2005 the Sydney Morning Herald bemoaned the lack of action by government in this country. It is so obvious that this needs to be dealt with, one can only ask why there is no political will. Two years later we are running the same arguments:


Of course, the ideologues say we should have small (ineffectual) governance and industry self-regulation. This is not working and was never intended to work. The people running that argument have had their chance and shown what a hollow promise that is. There is an industry-based ‘opt-out’ scheme, which does nothing and is ignored by its own industry members. If you ring the Distribution Standards Board you will find no one at the office till after 28 January 2008:


What to do about junk mail? There are some tips for householders:


The Mayor of Mossman, NSW, says she is "over it" with junk mail. Where are Campbell Newman and Greg Rowell, Labor Candidate for Brisbane Lord Mayor on this issue?


There is just enough time before the Brisbane City Council elections for the BCC to announce their really effective legislation has been passed and here are the key performance indicators (KPI’s) and the whopping fines for non-compliance, and the complaints hot line for the public to express their views.

Every single Alderman and candidate will be asked to give a public undertaking to end this 'free-ride' that the junk mail industry has enjoyed for far too long. We can stop wasting water. Brisbane is getting there. We can stop wasting electricity. We still have to educate a large number of people. We can stop wasting fuel, ride bicycles and use public transport, likewise. We can stop wasting paper. I will store this electronically and email it to hundreds of people.

Legitimate free newspapers and periodicals need to review their delivery regimes too.


Willy Bach