Direct-mail group introduces green stewardship challenge

A trade association serving direct marketers has embarked on a major campaign to offer a waste- and cost-management tool to its members.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), New York, NY, has introduced the DMA Environmental Stewardship Challenge to its more than 3,000 US member companies. The Challenge encourages direct marketers to enroll with the DMA to assess and address the impact of waste-management practices connected to their businesses and to send a confidential survey of their findings to an independent research firm.

DMA members include marketers from consumer and business-to-business segments, the service industries that support them and the nonprofit sector. Included are catalogers, financial services, book and magazine publishers, retail stores, industrial manufacturers and a host of other vertical segments.

"Maximizing efficiency in the direct-marketing process and reducing waste in the conduct of our business, can provide more than simply excellence in environmental stewardship - it can be an effective means for short-term cost control and long-term strategic business advantage," Jonah Gitlitz, DMA president and chief executive officer," said. "The Challenge is a management tool from which all direct marketers - no matter how large or small and no matter what their primary line of business - can achieve measurable gains."

The DMA Challenge is being offered in partnership with the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency, according to Gitlitz.

"DMAs Challenge is a call for all direct-marketing professionals to help support national waste-reduction efforts," Edward Boisson, executive director of the Northeast Recycling Council, a regional policymaking organization of the national Council of State Governments. NERC provided support and resource information in the development of the DMA program.

"By taking the Challenge, many direct marketers will find they can achieve significant cost savings while increasing recycling and reducing the waste associated with their operations," Boisson said.

The program contains checklists of practical, environmentally sound business practices that a company can use to assess and improve its own waste-management initiatives and information on why these practices are important.

Checklists of practices are provided in six areas: operations, list management, mail design and production, order fulfillment, site management and marketing communications. An appendix of resources points direct marketers to environment and waste-related info from DMA, environmental and waste-management organizations, and governmental and policymaking groups.

"DMA is committed to assisting those companies interested in participating in the Challenge, and we will promote the Challenge throughout 1995," Gitlitz said.

The Challenge was mailed to voting members in DMA-member companies in the US in mid-November and was accompanied by a letter from Elliot Laws, US EPA assistant administrator, and an invitation and information to join WasteWi$e, a voluntary, national waste-reduction initiative introduced by the EPA earlier this year for all types of businesses.

EPAs WasteWi$e and the DMA Corporate Environmental Stewardship Challenge share three specific objectives: waste reduction, recycling collection, and buying or manufacturing products made from recycled materials. A total of 35 DMA member companies are participants in WasteWi$e, which was introduced in early 1994.

DMA members participate in the Challenge by sending a Sign On sheet to DMA and sending the completed checklists to an independent research firm that will prepare an aggregate report on trade practices for the trade group. Gitlitz said that report will be used for further association education initiatives and for more effective representation with governments that have expressed an active interest in the direct-marketing business as it relates to waste-management issues.

Participants will periodically receive new checklists to aid in the self-monitoring process.

DMA and NERC will undertake initiatives to recognize and publicize the direct-marketing companies that take the Challenge, beginning with the DMA 30th Spring Conference and Exhibition from March 26-29 in Nashville, TN. Deadline for inclusion on the charter-member list is March 17.

The DMA has been active in environmental issues. Other DMA resources in this area include:

* The DMA Environmental Resource for Direct Marketers, a resource booklet published in 1991 that examines areas in which direct marketing creates an environmental impact. A new edition will be published in 1995.

* An annual Recycled Paper Survey, which has been conducted since 1992.

* The DMA Robert Rodale Environmental Achievement Awards that annually honor the top efforts to create a companywide sustainability direct-marketing program.

Copies of the DMA Corporate Environmental Stewardship Challenge are available to any direct-marketing company or organization. For information, contact DMA public relations department at 212/768-7977, ext. 459 or 425.

* California Exemption - The Foodservice & Packaging Institute (FPI), Washington, DC, has succeeded in exempting California's food-service establishments from compliance with onerous state-container regulations.

Many food-service establishments, including grocers, restaurateurs, concessionaires, and operators of convenience stores, delicatessens and other businesses that use food-service containers, would have found it difficult or impossible to comply with the regulations for the state's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container (RPPC) law, according to the FPI.

In November, the California Office of Administrative Law approved final regulations that excluded from compliance cups and hinged-lid and other plastic containers used for point-of-sale food service, bakery goods (sold directly by the manufacturer to the final end user), fresh meats, fish, poultry, vegetables and fruits.

Under the draft rules to implement the 1991 RPPC law, nearly 100,000 California food-service establishments would have had to certify that the plastic containers they use were source reduced, reusable, recycled at a specific rate or contained recycled content.

FPIs member companies - primarily manufacturers of food-service packaging and their raw-materials suppliers - recognized the unmanageable costs and logistical and recordkeeping burdens that would have been placed upon their retail customers in this $280-million market for plastic containers. FPI organized a California coalition to pursue an exclusion for food-service containers.

"FPIs accomplishment in California confirms that industry and its customers need to work together to affect reasonable change at both the legislative and regulatory levels," Joseph W. Bow, president of FPI, said. "Success in California wouldn't have been possible without the outstanding efforts of our members and their California customers."

All FPI members supported the efforts of the FPI California Task Force, which include representatives from these member companies: Amoco Chemical Co., Chevron Chemical Co., Dow Chemical USA, Genpak Corp., Hunstman Chemical Corp., James River Corp., Mobil Chemical Co., Packaging Corp. of America, Sweetheart Cup Co. and Tenneco Inc.

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