3 Ways to Green Your Outer Envelopes

4 Mar

Originally Published in Target Marketing’s Tipline E-Newsletter
by Britt Brouse
Jun 4, 2008

To boost direct mail open rates in a market where consumers are increasingly aware of environmental responsibility, marketers may want to green their outer envelopes. “We’re getting to the point where consumers are a lot more conscious about the paper that they receive, and they’re looking for ways to ensure that the paper is recovered and recycled,” says Maynard Benjamin, president and CEO of the Envelope Manufacturers Association (EMA). Choosing the right format and paper source, while promoting recycling, can help your bottom line, and over time, reduce recycled paper costs by pumping more reusable fiber into the supply chain.

1. Test Send and Return Envelopes
“As far back as the American Civil War, we were using returnable envelopes,” Benjamin says. “The South ran out of paper, and people turned envelopes inside out and sent them back. We’re coming to the same time in our industry where we’re going to need paper in the future,” he adds. The gist of a send-and-return format is to use one specially engineered outer envelope and either have prospects recycle it at home, when they choose not to respond, or use it to reply to marketers, at which point it gets recycled by the marketer. Not only will consumers appreciate your efforts to conserve and reuse materials, but the elimination of the reply envelope also reduces the package weight, allowing marketers to mail at a lower postal class or add more creative elements to the package.

2. Purchase Recycled and Sustainable Paper
“Recycled paper is coming into more use now … the demand for it is up,” Benjamin says. While getting recycled fibers to look bright white and free of defects used to be a concern among marketers, Benjamin says consumers now value an earth-tone, “recycled” look. The EMA offers an array of recycled and FSC or SFI sustainable forested materials, and Benjamin recommends envelopes with a minimum of 30 percent postconsumer waste up to 50 percent postconsumer waste. He says that 100 percent recycled paper is more expensive and harder to come by. “Our issue is currently just availability of sources for the supply. There’s so much of a demand for the product right now that it’s just very difficult to get 100 percent postconsumer waste recycled.”

3. Promote Recycling
“I think that it’s important to emphasize that a large proportion of the printed waste that is being generated by our company and other graphic arts companies today doesn’t necessarily show back up here in recycled content paper,” Benjamin says. The EMA is working toward creating a closed-loop process where waste and recycled materials are recovered to replenish the industry’s supply. “We’ve just made a commitment in our industry that 60 percent of all the paper we consume is recovered, and we’re moving toward 70 percent and 80 percent,” he says. One way for marketers to help out is to promote Please Recycle programs run by the DMA and MPA, which involve marketers and publishers printing messages on their direct mail and publications pertaining to their recyclability. “Our goal is zero envelopes to the landfill. What we want to do is recover all of the envelopes. We do ask all of our members in turn [to] ask their customers to please print the Please Recycle logo on their envelopes,” he concludes.


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