Junk mail is at best a nuisance, whether it comes in one’s email account or mailbox. Opponents of junk mail are not likely to be happy with the Postal Service, which is soliciting more junk mail by offering mail targeting services to businesses.
Hurting for cash
There are few governmental entities that are as hard up as the United States Postal Service. The agency, according to CNN, posted a $5.1 billion loss for the last fiscal year and is slated to start closing post offices and mail centers to stop hemorrhaging money. The agency has also proposed a postal rate hike and to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.
The USPS is also trying to generate more revenue by promoting its targeted advertising service, or in other words, a targeting system for junk mail. Also known as “direct mail” or “direct advertising,” businesses can use the “Every Door Direct Mail” service to target residences or entire zip codes, though names and addresses are not disclosed by the service.
Already exceeds normal mail volume
It costs 14.5 cents to send a person a piece of advertising mail, compared to the 45 cents it costs to mail a letter. The “Every Door Direct Mail” service has been in operation since April, when the USPS put the tool on its website, generating the struggling agency $153 million from the launch of the program to the end of the year.
The USPS currently mails out more junk mail than anything else. The first year that more “direct mail” went out than traditional mail was in 2005, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, when 101 billion pieces of it were delivered, marking a 12 percent increase over 2003. Last year, according to CNN, there were 84.7 billion pieces of direct mail delivered to people compared to 73.5 billion pieces of first-class mail, meaning the USPS is one of the largest advertising agencies in the nation.
Expensive to deal with
Junk mail is still less profitable than first-class mail. According to the Wall Street Journal, direct mail accounted for only $17.3 billion for the USPS, 26 percent of its revenue.
Though it brings in revenue for the USPS, the cost of junk mail for everyone else is considerable. According to 41pounds.org, a non-profit devoted to recycling and reducing the amount of junk mail the typical American receives, it costs more than $320 million for municipalities to dispose of the 41 pounds of junk mail the typical person receives per year. It also costs $550 million to transport it and 100 million trees’ worth of paper is required to create it.