Flyerland in Condoland

Photo of No unsolicited mail or drop-offs

Helping the Environment

By Ken Shibasaki, Senior Analyst at Riskboss Inc.

Such material litters and often overflows recycle boxes at most condominiums. Most flyers are not recyclable depending in the material used, thereby contributing to the waste/recycle budget line item of all condominiums and of course our landfills.

The flyer and junk mail industry is shrinking rapidly. The market share of print media is being overwhelmingly overtaken by online media and search engines. Some research, however, does point to the fact that print media remains for some, the most effective method of delivering messaging prompting some diehard companies to still use flyers and junk mail, but it is not without significant cost to the environment.

Most will be shocked to learn that for years some Canadian recycling companies have shipped their trash (up to 40%) to governments that are willing to take it. In 2019, the Philippine government did an about face on one such an agreement to take such garbage turning 69 containers away from their shores citing, “The Philippines is not the world’s dumpsite”, this after decades of accepting Canadian garbage. Malaysia and several other countries followed suit shortly after.

According to online resources, reducing one tonne of junk mail saves 17 trees, 2.3 cubic metres of landfill, 31,400 litres of water, 4,200 kilowatt hours of energy, 1,600 litres of oil, and avoids 26 kilograms of air pollutants.

Governments are slowly moving towards Flyer and Junk Mail Free Zones. In May 2023, for example, Montreal banned flyers except for those who actually opt-in and request to receive junk mail, a move that was applauded by the climate-conscious. This move was to curb the over 40 million flyers annually that end up in local recycling centres. By opting in, those who still use flyers can maintain it.

Alarmingly, in 2013 Canada Post mailed more than 900,000 letters across the country hoping to convince people to remove “no flyer” stickers from their mailboxes. This was considered junk mail to many. Canada Post continues its program of unaddressed ad mail paid for by companies to deliver and distribute flyers and other material. The letter hoped to convince residents that flyers, catalogues, product samples, and community notices can “Save you money and keep you connected with your local community.”

This certainly flies in the face of the federal government’s efforts and attempts to reduce the Canadian carbon footprint as Canada Post is a Crown corporation.

Fast forward to 2024, Canada Post has now done a ‘sort-of’ about face by offering all citizens a choice.

“ Canada Post is proudly committed to serving every Canadian in every corner of the country. We respect Canadians’ choices when it comes to receiving unaddressed advertising mail delivered by us. That’s why our Consumers’ Choice program offers a simple way for Canadians to stop receiving it. It’s your choice.”

Flyer and Junk Mail Free Zones like Montreal and soon to be others are the trend due to public sentiment, but not without a fight. In May 2023, disappointed Montreal mayor pushed back on plans by Canada Post to continue delivering unsolicited flyers contrary to the ‘Junk-free zone’ by-law. Canada Post planned to deliver such flyers and junk mail in plastic bags hung from home doors.

Yannick Scott, the national director for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers who represents greater Montreal is reported by the CNC to have said, “We’re caught in a catch-22 situation where, if our letter carriers are delivering, they might be fined by the city up to $1,000 for doing their job. On the other hand, if they aren’t delivering where they’re supposed to, the corporation might discipline or even suspend our members.”

And it’s not just Canada Post. Newspapers have been benefitting from including flyers in their daily delivery for decades adding to their bottom, line but also to landfill sites.

Let’s all do our part to help the environment by saying, “No Junk Mail or Flyers”.

  • Lobby your local politician to assist by eliminating unnecessary junk mail in our communities.
  • Property managers can communicate with all residents to put a sticker inside their mailbox asking for no junk mail. After all, Canada Post said “It’s your choice.”
  • Remember, for those who still want to opt-in for flyers and junk mail, and will obviously be adding to the landfill sites, you still can, but at the cost to the environment.