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Time to fight against paper waste!

When OUTSIDE THE BOX finally got live, I dedicated a few posts to how much paper waste could be prevented if the local free press had a better idea of the amount of recipients that do not read their weekly issues (with somehow a correlation with the percentage of people in the canton that do not read German).

If you want to find these articles again on the Homepage, click on the right on the Tag word "waste".

This summer, French associations have also raised their voice against the absolute waste that paper-based advertizing represents in the country.

In June, the organization UFC Que Choisir (which defends consumers' rights) disclosed that a French household receives in average 2,3 kg of advertizement leaflets and unsolicited magazines in the mailbox per month.

In terms of volume of used paper, this would represent one quarter of the paper consumed in France.

The independent forum also estimated the cost of production of unsolicited paper-based advertizing to EUR 2,9 billion, an appalling number which would further explode, should waste management capacities (collection, sorting, treatment) were also taken into account in the calculations.

If the finger had to be pointed at someone, the largest chains of supermarkets would cary the blame, with multiple-pages magazines shared on a frequent basis and thus despite the increasing power on online-based and social-media driven advertisement campaigns.


Things however got a little more exciting.

In August, the Zero Waste France association added scary numbers to the list, with a total waste of paper of 900 000 tons of distributed advertizing in people's mailboxes.

To complain against the absurdity of the situation, the association filed an official legal claim against 2 franchised outlets of Intermarché (a supermarket group) and Pizza Hut in Strasbourg for distributing leaflets and magazines in mailboxes despite the clear presence of "stop pub" (no advertizing) stickers.

The legal claim finds its origins in the French law which forbids the disposal of waste in a place when the owner of this same place has not given consent. According to the association, a sticker on the mailbox is a sufficient sign of clear refusal, which then is not respected.

For months, the association has tracked the distributors in the city and tried to engage the outlets to discuss the siuation and obviously to put an end to this practice. People were asked to picture their sticker with the leaflets they would receive. In some places, large stacks of magazines would be even delivered.

With no relevant response from the brands regarding the purpose of such methods, the association decided to go to court.


Fair enough, we are not in France. But I would have expectd a better sense of respect of my "Bitte keine Werbung" sign on my Swiss mailbox (especially when it is so politely requested!) and I would have hoped to be asked for for my consent to receive local free press and random information before discovering them in my mailbox. But hey, contrary to many, I do read them every week before placing them in the paper bin.

However, with the local elections to come, we are currently bombarded by the candidates' leaflets, and the newspapers have added some extra pages to their weekly issues to introduce the parties and respective programs. Not only haven't I asked for this information, but I also do not vote in Switzerland. And from knowing where most of my neighbours come from (in the sense that most are expats that have recently moved to the region or do not hold the Swiss nationality), I doubt these leaflets are useful to them either.

So here you go. More paper wasted for a lack of understanding of who the possible recipients are.

Maybe that will be my 2019 resolution: keeping track of all unsolicited paper that come in my mailbox and trying to raise my own voice.

And if you feel like joining this one with me, please let me know: the more, the merrier.

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