Direct Mail

Can You Recycle Mail

By 2 May 2023April 15th, 2024No Comments
direct mail problems

Can You Recycle Junk Mail? How to Properly Dispose of Your Unwanted Mail?

Despite the majority of businesses going paperless, millions of people daily receive direct mail to their mailboxes around the country. From junk mail to online packages, they deliver in a wide range of different packaging options. Some have recyclable materials, and some do not. There is often a problem with customers' inboxes piling up with junk mail.

And they have the question, can you recycle junk mail?

According to USPS, they deliver 173.1 million pieces of first-class mail in a single day. The average American receives 18 pieces of junk mail for every piece of legitimate mail. Each person gets 41 pounds of junk mail annually (approximately), and nearly 50% of mail is thrown away rather than recycled.

These direct mail pieces end up in U.S. landfills, creating a massive environmental impact. Can you recycle mail packaging? It becomes an essential question in such a scenario.

An average American household discards 100 million trees' worth of paper annually. So you might have the question: can you recycle junk mail?

What is Junk Mail? And Why Should You Care?

It refers to unsolicited or unwanted mail sent to a person and can be a nuisance for recipients who receive it in excess, which can clutter their mailboxes. They have to dedicate additional time to sort through and dispose of. People often consider it a waste of resources, as it can use paper, ink, and other materials. Junk mail can have a significant impact on our environment.

Let's learn how it harms the environment,

Increase in Deforestation

The excess production of junk mail can contribute to an increase in deforestation and habitat destruction. Paper companies have to cut more trees to paper for direct mail. Thus, it can have a substantial negative impact on biodiversity and lead to soil erosion. Considering this impact, people often ask, ‘can I recycle mail?'

Resource Consumption 

Creating and delivering direct mail consumes many resources, such as fuel, water, and energy. This excess resource demand can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Paper Waste 

Due to the lack of recycling, junk mail often ends up in landfills.  It takes years to decompose this waste, and it also releases harmful gases. According to New York University, we produce over 5.6 million tons of junk mail yearly in the United States.

Water Pollution 

Producing different types of paper and ink requires millions of gallons of water. Thus, it can result in water pollution from the release of chemicals into water bodies. Improper disposal of paper can contribute to leachate, a liquid that contains pollutants and can contaminate groundwater. Additionally, some inks might contain heavy metals such as lead. It can be very toxic to aquatic life if it enters water bodies.

Energy Consumption

It requires tons of energy to power the fleets of vehicles to deliver mail. Thus, it can also contribute to air pollution and climate change. The American postal fleets are still not fully electric. The majority of delivery vehicles are still running on fossil fuels. It emits a high amount of greenhouse gases. This amount is especially problematic for large direct mail campaigns that need the delivery of thousands of mail pieces.

Chemical Pollution 

The printing & mailing involves using harmful chemicals such as bleach and chlorine. They could result in air and water pollution. Thus, it is essential to consider the proper recycling of direct mail.

Financial Costs 

Junk mail often leads to high financial costs. According to the environmental group ForestEthics, the disposal of junk mail costs $370 million. Collecting, transporting, and disposing of junk mail material is expensive.

This junk mail could cause a massive nuisance for people. We need to get rid of them with intelligent recycling methods. What can people do about them? Can you recycle junk mail? Can you recycle mail packaging? Can you recycle plastic mailing bags? Can you recycle mail with plastic windows?

You will find answers to these questions in this blog.

Can Mail be Recycled? 

It is possible to recycle junk mail. The mail generally arrives in the form of paper. It has always been an easily recyclable material. Follow the steps to recycle your mail;

  • Gather All Your Mail: The first step starts by collecting all the mail you want to recycle. Make sure you clear home and mailboxes from all the mail.
  • Pack Them Together: After gathering your mail, you have to pack them together. It would save a lot of space in your home and mailbox.
  • Bring Them to Recycling Bin: You can bring your direct mail to the local recyclers for pick up.

These three simple steps aren't the only way to recycle. There are a lot of other factors that you need to consider.

Can You Recycle All Junk Mail?

It would help to eliminate all junk mail from your home or business. However, can you toss out all of them together for recycling?

Mail pieces might be arriving in paper materials. Yet, some mail contains additional materials. For example, there could be a thin layer of transparent plastic. People often refer to this layer as the foil.

Standard Envelopes 

Can I recycle mail? Standard envelopes consist of bills and most other mail. You can recycle them in most areas in the U.S. Yet, it would be advisable to shred your paper if it contains confidential information. You should have a specific type of bag for collection.

It is possible to recycle mail with stamps on it. Yet, you can remove the postal stamps and donate them to charity. Individuals can also recycle junk mail, newspapers, magazines, and leaflets. The recycling centres will take care of the mail piece and staples in the magazines. However, you need to make sure that you remove all types of plastic wrapping from your magazines and mail pieces.

Envelopes with Plastic Windows 

Can you recycle mail with plastic windows? The recycling centres can recycle this type of mail at their facility. They can filter components like the address window during the pulping process. Thus, removing the plastic window before putting your mail in the recycling bin is unnecessary.

Padded or Bubble-Wrap Envelopes 

You cannot recycle padded or bubble-wrap envelopes in their original form. They use composite materials such as plastic, paper, etc. You might tear the envelope apart and recycle the constituent parts. Yet, it could be a very challenging process.

These envelopes are often made from different grades of plastics and paper. Thus, all these factors make it daunting to become planet friendly with such envelopes.

The best way to avoid such issues is to reuse them for another purpose. For example, you can use them for storing your letters.

Cardboard Envelopes/Boxes 

You can easily recycle cardboard boxes and envelopes. Yet, it is advisable to remove the tape from the cardboard. Like bubble wrap and padded envelopes, you can reuse cardboard boxes and envelopes instead of recycling them.

Things You Cannot Recycle

If you have the question; can I recycle mail? Then, you must know about the things that you cannot recycle. Certain items can contaminate the value of recyclable mailing materials.

Air Pockets, Bubble Wrap, and Packing Peanuts

Always remember that plastic is your enemy when talking about recycling your mail. Thus, you must remove the items that protect your mail item from damage. Reusing these items for your packaging and shipping needs is possible.

Old Credit Cards or Rewards Cards 

A mailing partner can send you credit cards or reward cards. These plastic cards consist of polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA). You cannot easily recycle this material. Thus, everyone should remove them before recycling other mail items.

Plastic Tape and Adhesive 

You must remove any packing tape or slip sleeves from the cardboard boxes. They are usually made with polyester backing and polypropylene. Additionally, people also consider removing the sticky globs from the mail pieces.

Smart DIY Solutions to Deal with Your Junk Mail

Instead of going to a recycling centre, you can deploy DIY solutions to deal with your junk mail. You can get the best from your mail with creativity and effort.

Using Mail for Your Fire Place 

Everyone wants to save the environment by recycling mail and saving trees. Yet, during the wintertime in the U.S., you also need warmth to survive. We have relied on dry wood for years to light up our fireplaces. But what if you can reduce the use of wood and save trees?

Junk mail can help you light your fireplace and save expenses on buying wood. It would help if you created a brick from your mail pieces; your fireplace can give you good heat.

Creating Packing Material 

Do you ever discover yourself looking for materials to pack gifts? You don't have to worry about packaging when you have junk mail.

Use clean junk mail material and tape for packing a present. You can also use paint on the junk mail paper to show creativity. Prefer contrasting colours to enhance the beauty of the packaging.

Building Bedding For Pets 

You might have a cute furball or a Shiba at your home. Are they sleeping comfortably?

Use junk mail to create bedding for your pets. A pile of junk mail can create comfortable bedding and give enough warmth. Pets love to have soft and comfortable bedding.

Make Compost for Plants 

All types of paper come from trees. Thus, they can make the best compost for your backyard garden. If you have tons of junk mail, you can convert them into compost. Your plants would love to feed on compost made from paper.

Yet, being careful while dumping mail into your compost bin is essential. The paper must not contain any chemicals, oil, or paint. It would potentially contaminate the compost material with toxic materials.

How to Encourage Customers to Recycle Mail?

There could be many practical ways to encourage customers to recycle mail;

Use Recyclable Materials 

Prefer using recyclable materials for your direct mail pieces. It would make the recycling process much easier for your customers.

Add Recycling Information

Consider adding helpful recycling information to your direct mail. You can also explain the importance of recycling and how it helps the environment. Include instructions on how and where to recycle the mail piece.

Highlight Your Eco-Friendly Practices 

Let customers learn about your company's eco-friendly practices, such as certifications on paper and renewable energy usage. It would show your commitment to sustainability and encourage more people to recycle your mail pieces.

Provide Incentives 

Do you want to motivate your customers to consider recycling your mail pieces? Then, you have to provide some incentives for recycling.

Sustainable Printing 

Mention that you are using environmentally friendly printing ink and printing processes. It would make them value your efforts and also consider recycling the mail.

Making Direct Mail More Ecofriendly 

All your customers might have questions like; can you recycle junk mail? Can you recycle mail packaging? Thus, it becomes essential to make your direct mail campaigns eco-friendly.

Using Recycled or Sustainably Sourced Materials 

Consider using recycled or sustainably-sourced paper for your direct mail campaign. It would help if you looked for certifications such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). It would help you protect the environment and use eco-friendly paper.

Minimize Chemical and Ink Use 

Select ink and adhesive with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Plus, avoid anything containing heavy metals and other harmful substances. It would help you reduce the environmental impact of your direct mail pieces.

Use Digital Printing 

This printing technique creates less waste and uses fewer chemicals than traditional methods. It is also more efficient for production, which saves energy and reduces emissions.

Consider Minimal Packaging 

Cell phone companies are using fewer packing materials to pack their devices. They have also removed documentation from the packaging to save paper. eCommerce giant like Amazon is also considering minimal packaging to conserve the environment. Thus, consider using cardboard envelopes instead of plastic ones. Don't use excessive padding or filler material in your direct mail.

Try to Use Alternative Materials 

Consider using alternative materials such as plant-based or biodegradable plastics. It would further reduce the environmental impact of your direct mail pieces.

Optimize the Design

You can optimize your direct mail pieces to be smaller and more compact. It would reduce the need for printing materials. Even a minute change in your font can conserve resources. For example, an eco-friendly font like Century Gothic can be less resource intensive than Times New Roman. PostGrid's Print & Mail API provides custom templates and a template editor. It helps you to optimize your direct mail design with ease.

Printing with Vegetable-Based Ink 

Soy ink is one of the most eco-friendly inks available today. You can get it from renewable resources, and it is biodegradable. Traditional petroleum-based ink contains harmful chemicals responsible for degrading the environment. Vegetable-based inks are the best to conserve the planet.

Prefer Targeted Mailing Lists 

You should send direct mail to people interested in your product or service. It reduces the number of pieces you must send and the overall environmental impact. PostGrid provides targeted mailing lists to help your business capture the right audience.

Use PostGrid Direct Mail to Protect the Environment 

Businesses find it challenging to build a sustainable business.  However, you can achieve this goal with the right direct mail partner like PostGrid.

We are a carbon-neutral direct mail company that helps you with environmentally friendly physical mailings. Our printing partners use PCW printing materials with FSC certification. It assures you that your print service provider will use sustainable paper printing.

Features that Make PostGrid a Robust Platform

Scalable Platform 

PostGrid is a highly scalable platform that allows you to create, print, and mail according to your demand. It saves you from unnecessary printing of direct mail pieces.

Address Verification API

We also have an address verification API with USPS certification. It ensures the deliverability of addresses, so you only print the necessary mail.

Tracking and Analytics 

Our platform provides complete tracking tools to optimize your direct mail campaigns. It also helps you to minimize the environmental impact.

Easy Integrations 

You can integrate our platform with any tech stack, CRM, or over 1600 tools. It streamlines your workflow and helps in launching triggered campaigns.

Signup now – if you want a positive answer to the question; can I recycle mail? We are carbon neutral company that uses eco-friendly printing materials for your direct mail pieces.

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