Welsh Conservatives today launched a consultation on measures to tackle nuisance junk mail, something which can be particularly distressing for many older and vulnerable people.
The average Welsh household receives 453 pieces of unwanted mail annually, a third of which is discarded unopened.
It takes 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water to produce a tonne of junk mail.
In 2012, an estimated 17.5billion items of junk mail were produced, made from 9million trees and 16.5billion litres of water. This represents 4.4% of the UK’s annual consumption of paper and cardboard.
The Royal Mail has schemes enabling people to opt out of unsolicited junk mail but awareness is low.
Welsh Conservatives want to consult on a range of options to tackle nuisance junk mail, including raising awareness of existing opt-out schemes and a possible levy paid by the sender per item of mail.
Funds raised by such a levy could be spent helping protect rural mail services, improving recycling rates and making our natural environment more sustainable.
Charities such as the Woodland Trust work to offset the environmental cost of junk mail.
Russell George AM, Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, said, “We are all accustomed to receiving unwanted junk mail, but for some older people, this nuisance can be distressing and intrusive.
“Some senders of junk mail deliberately target older people with scams, offers that seem too good to be true and pushy correspondence.
“The environmental cost of unwanted mail is enormous with millions of trees being felled every year to produce what some see as rubbish, not to mention the billions of gallons of water needed to produce the paper.
“Our natural resources are finite and we waste them at our peril.
“Welsh Conservatives want to consult on how the environmental threat of junk mail can be reduced through a range of measures including a levy charged to senders of junk mail, which can be reinvested in protecting woodlands and improving the mail service in rural areas.
“We want to start a debate about how this nuisance can be tackled to stop the seemingly endless flurry of unwanted mail that many people, including the elderly, receive on a daily basis.
“Welsh Conservatives are the party of low tax, big ideas. As a constructive opposition, we will continue to offer solutions to many of the problems facing the people of Wales.”