The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Anti-Junk-Mail Laws Trashed by Businesses, Labor

by Megan Tady

Mar. 8, 2007 – A growing movement to curb junk mail for ecological and privacy reasons is meeting stiff opposition from marketing associations, businesses and a postal workers’ union.

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Lawmakers from ten states have recently introduced bills that would create "do-not-mail" registries – lists of consumers who do not want to receive unsolicited advertising, marketing or publicity materials through the mail.

But just weeks after many of the bills were introduced, four have already been killed – in Colorado, Maryland, Montana and Washington. Colorado Rep. Sara Gagliardi, who initially introduced her state’s bill, asked colleagues to kill it under pressure from parties opposing the registry.

Maryland Senator Jamie Raskin also pulled his do-not-mail bill this week. While he told The NewStandard that junk mail is a "staggering environmental problem, a waste of money and a pervasive, low-level assault on privacy and solitude in our homes," he said it "caused concern among lots of postal employees and letter carriers."

The Direct Marketing Association, a trade group with more than 3,600 members, and the National Association of Letter Carriers union have been among the most vocal in opposing the bill, arguing a decrease in junk mail could cut postal-worker jobs and negatively affect businesses.

Washington Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles pulled her bill this week. In a statement to TNS, Kohl-Welles said she "wants to take the time to consider and fully weigh" the effects a do-not-mail registry could have on postal workers. She said she will work on the bill "in the interim."

Senator Raskin told TNS he wanted to "spend some time massaging [his] proposal to see if we can get [postal carriers] to buy into it rather than oppose it." He said he would also reach out to other allies who might support the bill.

The Center for a New American Dream, a consumer and environmental organization that has supported lawmakers’ efforts to pass the do-not-mail bills, is urging people to "declare [their] independence from junk mail."

The group says sending thousands of pounds of unwanted mail every year wastes trees and clogs landfills. In 2003, 5.4 million tons of standard mail – better known as "bulk mail" – was added to municipal waste streams, the EPA said. The EPA also estimated that 100 million trees are cut each year to create that waste.

In support letters, the Center for a New American Dream also said that just as citizens can maintain their privacy rights by turning off TVs and radios from unwanted ads, posting "No Soliciting" signs on doors, and refusing telemarketer calls by signing a no-call registry, "likewise, [they] should have the right to opt out of ad mail with an easy-to-use Do Not Junk registry."

Bills to create do-not-mail registries have also been proposed in Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, and Texas. A bill in Missouri would prohibit unsolicited commercial mail to individuals 65 years of age and older.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Megan Tady is a staff journalist.

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