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New ‘opt in’ stickers trialled in France to reduce junk mail waste

The ‘Oui pub’ system is being rolled out in several areas as an alternative to the current ‘opt out’ set up

The new system is aiming to have people opt in to receive publicity material rather than the other way around Pic: KYNA STUDIO / Shutterstock

People in 11 areas spread across four regions of France will now be able to ‘opt in’ to receiving publicity material at home in a new three-year trial in a bid to reduce waste and waste collection costs.

If successful, the trial will be extended to three extra zones in February 2023. To take part, residents in these areas must place a sticker on their letterboxes saying ‘Oui pub’ (yes to advertising) to show that they are opting in to receive flyers, catalogues and other non-addressed commercial material.

The ‘Oui pub’ system will replace the ‘Stop pub’ stickers, meaning that residents will be opting in rather than out. 

The aim is to reduce the amount of unwanted publicity material and paper that people receive and must then inevitably dispose of, often without even reading it.

The trial is set to last three years and, if successful, will be rolled out across the country.

In total, around 2.5 million residents are affected with areas taking part in the trial being in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur and Corsica.

The system was first voted as part of the ‘climate and resilience’ law of August 2021 after an idea suggested by the Convention citoyenne pour le climat (CCC). 

The main aims are to reduce waste from individual homes and reduce the costs of waste collection and treatment in communes. The CCC’s idea said that the system would also help to “regulate publicity to stop invitations to overconsumption”.

In theory, companies and other distributors of the material will be banned from posting the mail into letterboxes that do not have the ‘Oui pub’ sticker.

Almost 900,000 tonnes of printed material

A report from the environmental agency l’Agence de l'environnement et de la maîtrise de l'énergie (Ademe) found that “more than 894,000 tonnes of printed publicity material without an address [were distributed in 2019] including a large portion that was thrown away without being read”, the Ecology Ministry said.

Shops and businesses have started to give out the ‘Oui pub’ stickers to residents in the areas in a bid to encourage them to stick them to their letterboxes and opt in to the new system. Posters have also started to go up, with QR codes that enable residents to order their own stickers.

The new scheme will be judged on its success according to four factors: 

  • Environmental impact - Does it change the amount of printed publicity that is thrown away, and the quantity of paper used? 
  • Economic impact - Does it enable communes to save money on waste collection, or does it negatively impact those who would otherwise distribute the material?
  • Behavioural impact - Do people adopt the measure and does it change behaviour towards other forms of publicity such as signing up for digital newsletters instead?
  • Understanding, take-up and satisfaction - How many people use the new system, is it popular, is the community happy with it? 

The ‘Stop pub’ sticker was created in 2004.

The full list of communes or waste disposal groups trialling the system from September 1:

  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence - Vallée de l'Ubaye Serre-Ponçon.
  • Alpes-Maritimes - UNIVALOM (Syndicat mixte de traitement et de valorisation des déchets de la ville d'Antibes).
  • Ardèche - SICTOBA (Syndicat intercommunal de collecte et traitement des ordures ménagères de la Basse Ardèche).
  • Ardèche et Drôme - SYTRAD (Syndicat de traitement des déchets Ardèche Drôme).
  • Haute-Garonne - Ville de Ramonville-Saint-Agne.
  • Gironde - Ville de Bordeaux.
  • Gironde - SMICVAL (Syndicat mixte intercommunal de collecte et de valorisation Libournais Haute Gironde).
  • Isère - Grenoble Alpes Métropole.
  • Lot-et-Garonne - Agglomération d'Agen.
  • Meurthe-et-Moselle - Métropole du Grand Nancy.
  • Yvelines - Ville de Sartrouville.

From February 1, 2023

  • Aube - Troyes Champagne Métropole. 
  • Corse du Sud and Haute-Corse - SYVADEC (Syndicat de valorisation des déchets de la Corse)
  • Nord - Dunkerque Grand Littoral.

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