When the new Code of Practice from the U.K.’s Direct Marketing Association goes into effect in September, marketers will find themselves facing a new, greener landscape.
For the first time, the Code sets guidelines for not just the environmental message of marketing materials, but also the medium as well as the messenger.
Foremost among the changes in The Code of Practice [PDF] is a requirement for DMA members to adhere to the environmental guidelines of the new British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct (CAP Code). The new CAP Code, which also goes into effect on September 1, states in part that marketers making green claims must provide “a high level of substantiation” for those claims, and that environmental claims must be based “on the full life cycle of the advertised product, unless the marketing communication states otherwise.”
In addition to requiring marketers to make their green messages credible, the DMA’s new Code also addresses corporate practices around marketing. Section 3.35 of the Code requires all paper materials to originate from facilities that have environmental management systems in place, certified either through ISO 14001 or the IEMA’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme.
Furthermore, all printed marketing materials will be required to “display prominently a ‘call to action’ recycle message and/or logo,” such as “Please Recycle After Use.”
In addition to using marketing to shape individual behavior, the new Code from the DMA also seeks to push companies toward greener practices, albeit in softer terms than the Code’s requirements for recycling messages and EMS practices.
Two sections of the Code suggest that companies should engage in business-wide environmental initiatives: “Members should have a documented environmental policy in place,” reads section 3.37, and “Members should seek, whever possible and where appropriate, to attain certification to PAS 2020,” reads section 3.36.
PAS 2020 is the Publicly Available Specification from the British Standards Institute focused on boosting the environmental claims of direct marketing.
The new Code is the culmination of a project launched nearly three years ago to develop green standards for direct marketing in the U.K. as a way to reduce the roughly 475,000 metric tons of direct marketing materials that end up in landfills each year.
In addition to the British DMA, the global Direct Marketing Association has been working to develop green initiatives as well: In 2002, the group published a free book, “The Environmental Resource for Direct Marketers,” that lays out best practices for greening mass mailings.
In the U.S. the Federal Trade Commission has lately begun cracking down on greenwashing, charging a number of companies with making false claims about the environmental benefits or green makeup of their products.