A Polestar Sheffield and Lateral Group initiative has revealed that only 11% of 1bn printed inserts carry an environmental message or recycled logo.
The two companies teamed up at the start of 2009 to establish the number of inserts received by the end user that don't carry any form of recycling logo or message and conducted a survey across their businesses during the first nine months of the year.
Its findings showed that just 15% of advertisers made any reference to the fact that their inserted printed literature could be recycled.
Jeff White, account director at Polestar Sheffield, said: "We were concerned about limiting the amount of waste that goes to landfill, so we monitored inserts to understand how many people use environmental messages. It was very low."
The initiative was also partly a response to the Direct Mail Association (DMA) Insert Media Council's commitment to meet environmental demands set out by government department Defra.
"With inserts' proven record of delivering very high sales results to an advertiser, the advertising and printing industries have a responsibility to ensure they play their full part in maintaining the recycling equilibrium," he said.
According to White, companies can either oversee good practice or wait for imposed financial penalising measures implemented by Defra.
"In an already difficult sector, this would not be an appealing option or prospect," he added.
White and Lateral Group sales director Nick Barbeary have now been tasked by the DMA council to increase awareness of the environmental responsibility of printers, publishers and creative agencies to try and ensure that all inserted literature carries an appropriate environmental logo or message.
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