New Environmental Laws in France — Avoid Being Fined for Commercial Print

 

Illustration of mailbox with a Stop Pub sticker.

In January of this year, in France, the laws and legislation surrounding the environmental impact of junk mail were made much stricter.

Now, if your business sends unaddressed commercial print to a house with an anti-junk mail sticker, your company could be fined €7,500.

Read on if you want to learn more about these new environmental laws and save yourself from being fined. As a bonus, we’ll also explain how online catalogs can help.

The new French environmental law stems from the traction gained over the last decade by the STOP PUB anti-junk mail initiative.

What started in 2004 as a citizens’ movement by those firmly against the environmental impact of printed commercial materials, STOP PUB has distributed over a million stickers to French residents, which people can easily download from the initiative’s website and stick onto their letterboxes.

Since the initiative began, it has boasted saving over 37 million trees, equivalent to around 100,000 tonnes of flyers.

Other laws and legislation aimed at reducing the overall environmental damage of print media mean that you can no longer use ink containing mineral oils. And any catalogs or print media must be printed on recycled paper or use paper that comes from sustainably managed forests.

These new laws will take effect in the coming years. Check out the timeline here:

2021 (January 1st): 2022 (January 1st): 2023 (January 1st):
  • You must print flyers and catalogs on recycled paper or paper from sustainably managed forests. [Article L541-15-17]
  • It’s forbidden to use mineral oils for printing flyers and catalogs. [Article 112]

Anti-junk mail initiatives continue to trend across Europe

It isn’t just in France where similar anti-junk mail initiatives pose a threat to your business and the reach of your print media. In Amsterdam, residents don’t even need an anti-junk mail sticker to stop promotional material from being pushed through their letterboxes. And if businesses do post it, they could be fined by local authorities.

Like many trends and movements that start in Europe, it’s likely that this anti-junk mail one — underpinned by the extensive environmental harm of paper wastage — will begin to take off in other countries across the continent.

So, if you’re still distributing your print material around Europe, it’s probably only a matter of time before your business is hit with a fine for sending unsolicited print material.

But all isn’t lost! Now, 87% of product research takes place online, and it makes much better business sense for you to start transitioning over to an online catalog.

The impact of the green industrial revolution on the reach of your print catalog

New laws and legislation surrounding the distribution of print material will likely continue to get tougher, not just for paper wastage but also on businesses’ overall working practices and emissions levels.

Earlier this year, UK and US governments made big plans to kick-start the green industrial revolution. It seems likely that more laws will be made which put pressure on businesses to play their part in achieving carbon net-zero for greenhouse gas emissions.

The combination of the potential for your business to be fined for mailing out print catalogs and the changes you’ll have to make in the near future to your business’s working practices to offset your carbon footprint means it’s high time to start transitioning from a print catalog to an online one.

Scaling back on the distribution of your print catalog doesn’t mean that you lose out on reach; you can make up for it with the global reach of your online catalog.

For your eCommerce brand, this is a win-win — you reach more shoppers by directing them to your online channels, and you cut back on the costs of designing, printing, and distributing your print catalog.

How can an online catalog perform better than your print one?

One of the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways of distributing your online catalog is simply to send it out via email to your subscribers.

With this strategy, you haven’t spent up your budget by printing hundreds of thousands or millions of catalogs, and you can boast about your new, greener business practices to your customers — who will love you for it!

An online catalog also performs better because:

  • It brings the familiar catalog experience to browsers’ fingertips, where they’re already browsing, and gives them the opportunity to shop with minimal effort. This greater level of convenience will help you convert more browsers into customers;
  • For the first time ever, you can acquire a tonne of data about how your subscribers interact with your catalog and use it to learn which pages and pieces of content your shoppers are interacting with;
  • An online catalog can be shared across multiple channels, rendering its potential reach to be almost limitless.

Online catalogs are disrupting print ones

With increasing pressure from stakeholders to be a sustainable business, changes in consumer behavior, and new laws and legislation on junk mail — print is the last part of the marketing stack to be disrupted.

But none of this has to mean that the reach of your print catalog is lost. If you switch to an online one, you can serve your existing audience with a digital outlet while also reaching new audiences that you couldn’t reach with your paper catalog.

You shouldn’t expect to transition from your print catalog to a digital one overnight; instead, it’s better to take a more gradual and measured approach.

Be sure to check out our post on the best way to do this.

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