DMA ECHO Green Marketing Award Entry Form: Consumers Union

We produced the Winter 2010/11 direct marketing campaign with the goal of strategically supporting the sustainability objectives of meeting our acquisition targets, serving the ongoing needs of consumers, and of being good stewards of the resources we use.  Direct Marketing and Publishing Operations departments worked collaboratively guided by our internal Environmental Policy & Vision Statement to identify, implement, and track meaningful environmental choices made throughout the life cycle of the campaign season.

Entry Title: Do’s and Don’ts, Lessons, Shopping Secrets Galore!

a) Innovative Green Tactics & Strategies Employed throughout the Direct Marketing Process.

We produced the Winter 2010/11 direct marketing campaign with the goal of strategically supporting the sustainability objectives of meeting our acquisition targets, serving the ongoing needs of consumers, and of being good stewards of the resources we use. Direct Marketing and Publishing Operations departments worked collaboratively guided by our internal Environmental Policy & Vision Statement to identify, implement, and track meaningful environmental choices made throughout the life cycle of the campaign season.

The overall environmental benefits of the choices we made included less energy and materials consumption, more benign manufacturing, and reduced emissions. Additionally, we promoted recycling of direct marketing packages that are recyclable, saved money, upheld response rates, and met our objectives.

b) Inspired Action & Making a Difference to the Planet.

We began by meeting with our creative agency, list broker, merge/purge shop, paper vendors, printers, letter shops, and logistics partner to share our objectives and engage the entire supply chain in this process. The vendors made presentations about their own environmental programs covering a broad range of initiatives that help to cut emission, consume less energy, water, chemicals, paper and other materials, and that included comprehensive recycling and even green power offset programs. Some of the items our vendors reported on as examples of environmental sustainability in print production and fulfillment that helped us to meet our goals included:

  • aqueous-based plate making chemistry
  • reverse osmosis systems for mixing fountain solutions
  • super bins for ink storage that cut down on ink tote deliveries
  • third-party audited SFI and FSC plant certification
  • Six Sigma and G7 certified master printer process improvements
  • thermo electron air purification systems
  • high-efficiency lighting and motion-sensor activated light switches in plants, warehouses, and offices
  • electric-powered and low-emission material handling equipment
  • refurbished and recycled toner cartridges

c) Measurable Environmental Impact of Your Campaign.

In the area of List Hygiene & Data Management, in addition to following the tenets of the Green 15 we integrated a Data Quality Enhancer (DQE) program into the merge/purge for the Consumer Reports (CR) “Lessons” package, a program that looks at more complex information to determine the value of a mailing piece. Using DQE we impacted 900,000 records with the following results:

  • removed 400,000 records otherwise undeliverable, saving $105,000 by not mailing
  • corrected 480,000 records to enhance deliverability, adding $35,000 in revenue
  • gained $1,400 in additional postal savings by applying apartment numbers to addresses and achieving better postal qualification

In the area of Paper Procurement & Use we used the Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT), company sustainability reports, market information, and shipping distances to inform our decision making. The text paper purchased for CR “Do’s and Don’ts” contains a minimum of 90% recovered fiber including 30% post-consumer recycled content. The text is labeled accordingly. Because we split our campaigns geographically for more efficient distribution, half of this paper order shipped to a printer a mere 35 miles from the paper mill-by rail (which has a lower carbon footprint than trucking). The text paper used for ShopSmart “Shopping Secrets Galore!” contains minimum 10% post-consumer recycled fiber (and is labeled). Other virgin stocks purchased for self-mailer covers and inserts and the CR “Lessons” brochure were produced at North American paper mills that have implemented third-party certification to accredited forestry certification programs SFI, FSC, and PEFC. Using multiple print locations and multiple paper suppliers to minimize transport distances cut carbon emissions. Paper used in the production of the other package components was printer supplied and adhered to our requirements for legal, responsible, sustainable sourcing.

In the area of Mail Design & Production, the three formats we used as our control packages demonstrated an evolution of testing downsized pieces. “Do’s and Don’ts” has succeeded with a 12-page text and is printed on lighter weight paper than earlier formats. “Shopping Secrets Galore!” was developed with an 8-page text. “Lessons” evolved into an envelope package from a larger format proving in this case that if you have a great product, compelling offer, and incredible copy platform you can get a more cost-effective format to pull better once you test into it. We use multivariate testing, which helps to compress the number of test panels and therefore reduce associated waste.

“Do’s and Don’ts,” “Shopping Secrets Galore!” and the “Lessons” package were printed with low-VOC inks comprised of renewable soy and vegetable oils and rosins. The repositionable labels found on “Shopping Secrets Galore” and “Lessons” are paper-based and made with recycling-compatible adhesive. The “Lessons” outer envelope was printed roll-to-roll litho effectively reducing paper tonnage. Litho roll cores are collected and re-used. The envelopes were run with an open panel window. Why is that significant?

  • approximately 31,160# of window patch material was NOT used
  • all chips removed for the open slot window were collected, sorted, and recycled
  • the open slot window saved approximately $4.75/M in cost

In the area of Recycling & Pollution Reduction we instituted an extensive digital work-flow allowing us to share, transmit, and proof files electronically using an electronic shared review system, ftp sites, and soft proofing programs. Although we recognize that online activities have a footprint too, the net benefit is that by eliminating vast amounts of CDs, photocopies, and overnight packages, we minimized a tremendous amount of unnecessary duplication. We encouraged our customers to recycle what we sent and printed the DMA’s Recycle Please logo on the inside page of “Do’s and Don’ts,” “Shopping Secrets Galore!,” and the “Lessons” brochure.

We delivered our mail to postal facilities nationwide via truck and rail. Our logistics plan made use of the EPA Smart Way Transport collaboration with the freight sector that is designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce green house gas and air pollutant emissions by making use of lighter-weight tractor and trailer components, reduced highway speeds, low-viscosity lubricants, reduced engine idling, among other things. Of the total number of miles shipped for each package, the following percentages were run by carriers that are partners in the Smart Way Transport program:

  • “Shopping Secrets Galore!”-96% of total miles
  • “Do’s and Don’ts”-69% of total miles
  • “Lessons”-64% of total miles

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