Fact check

Mountains of paper and oceans of plastic because of advertising mail? Wrong!
Here we explain why that’s simply not true.

The printing and paper industry is often confronted with statements that are not based on facts but on prejudices. The industry works based on facts. Here we confront dubious claims with well-founded data.

Symbolfoto: Ein Mann und eine Frau führen ein Gespräch

Why common prejudices need to be rethought

We say: Wrong!

Door drops are mainly printed on recovered paper. In the paper industry, the use rate of recovered paper was 78% in 2019.1

According to the TU Darmstadt, paper fibres can be recycled up to 10 times.

The trunk wood of mature trees is too valuable and too expensive for the paper and printing industry. It is mainly used for houses and furniture. Fresh fibres for paper come mainly from thinning wood and sawmill waste.

In cases where plastic is used, it is perforated film that is separated from the paper in the recycling process and also recycled properly.

The water consumption for the production of door drops that a household receives in a year is equivalent to one minute of hand washing per household per year.2

The energy for the production of door drops that a household receives in a year is equivalent to about four litres of heating oil.3

  1. Bifa Environmental Institute 2020
  2. vdp/bvdm Environmental Indicators Offset Printing;
    Water Practice, a practical guide to saving water
  3. vdp/bvdm environmental indicators offset printing;

We say: Wrong!

Piles of advertising and door drops in hallways are isolated cases: Publishers hire agencies to check the quality of delivery. The delivery staff are also trained accordingly.

In the event of violations—if advertising mail lands in the letterbox despite a “no advertising” sticker—citizens can contact the consumer centres.

We say: Wrong!

According to a study conducted by IFH Cologne in 2020, 94% of recipients of door drops read them occasionally, 75% even weekly.1

According to our Civey survey, people aged 65 and over in particular often look at door drops as it is a valuable support in their shopping planning.2

Thanks to its civic utility, door drops are a relevant source of information for all citizens in cities and municipalities.

  1. IFH Cologne in cooperation with MEDIA Central, „Der Prospekt als Markenbotschafter”,
    2020, p. 6
  2. Representative Civey survey, 2021

Since Amsterdam does not have a paper recycling system (blue bin), in contrast to German cities, the comparison is flawed. Amsterdam had a waste separation problem that never existed in Germany. So the city has solved a problem that we don’t have.

Door drops are mainly made from waste paper which can be recycled up to around 10 times. Waste paper is therefore not waste, but an important raw material to make books, newspapers, brochures, writing pads, copying paper, wallpaper, packaging material or even sanitary paper.1

  1. TU Darmstadt, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Samuel Schabel, Department of Paper Manufacture and Mechanical Process Engineering

We say: Wrong!

Non-addressed advertising mail can be consumed passively due to the proven opt-out system, whereas digital offers must be actively sought out. Therefore, printed door drops prevent local information gaps.

If there were a switch to opt-in or if there were  only digital solutions, many people, especially those with limited access to digital devices (for example, older people), would be cut off from important information in their immediate environment. According to our survey conducted with Civey, 85% of the population therefore prefer printed rather than digital advertising mail.1

There is also a majority consensus among advertisers: 72% say that it is not possible without advertising mail in the letterbox and would therefore not switch to digital advertising if there were an opt-in regulation.2

In addition, non-profit actors such as churches, associations or educational institutions would lose a central distribution channel for their information through the switch to opt-in. This is because they often lack financial resources and access to recipients in order to draw attention to themselves and their initiatives by digital means.

In food retailing (LEH), the printed brochure is the leading medium in the media mix with an advertising budget share of a good 50%. 70% of the marketing managers surveyed in LEH also consider the brochure to be indispensable in the future because it is effective, has a large reach and can present an extensive product range at a glance.3

1,2 Representative Civey survey, 2021
3 EHI study Stationary Retail Germany 2021

We say: Wrong!

In the Civey survey, 75% of households say they are satisfied with the existing opt-out system. This provides that all citizens receive door drops on a voluntary basis. Those who do not wish to do so can easily reject the delivery with a “Please no advertising” sticker on the letterbox.1

When it comes to online shopping in particular, impulse purchases are more pronounced—the product is often just a click away. Advertising mail, on the other hand, provides orientation and offers comparison possibilities in an overflowing world of consumption. Advertising mail informs about special offers and promotions so that consumers can make their purchases specifically in the shop—and thus save money and time.

  1. Representative Civey survey, 2021

Our factsheet

Here you can read the most important facts about our initiative at a glance.

Further questions?

Please feel free to contact us. We look forward to receiving your enquiry. For all questions and concerns, you can contact us by phone, mail or e-mail.

Bundesverband Druck und Medien e. V.
Markgrafenstrasse 15
10969 Berlin