“No Circular Mail” Sticker Disappointing Promotion Advertisement Mails No Promotion Hard to Get Annoy Citizens & Damage Environment

According to the data given by Hongkong Post, Hongkong Post Circular Service posts 110,000,000 advertisement mails to citizens every year and there is a trend of increase. However, it is because no address or addressee has to be put on these circular mails that the chance of attracting the interested customers is fairly low. The circular mails are useless for most of theHong Kongcitizens and are dumped once received. The Circular Service is in fact extremely un-environmentally friendly.

On 1st September, citizens can opt-out from receiving unaddressed circular mails by placing designated “No Circular Mail” sticker (Sticker) on letter boxes. Postman will not deliver circular mails, except those from the government and related organizations, Legislative Councillors/District Councillors, election candidates, and election candidates and charitable bodies eligible for tax exempt under Section 88 of Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap 112), to the letter box with the Sticker. Also, postmen will frequently review the amount of letter boxes with Stickers throughoutHong Kong in order to reduce the amount of circular mails published. In fact, the Sticker increases the chance of finding the interested customers by circular mails. Resources can also be better used.

We, Green Sense, applaud the new policy allowing citizens to opt-out from receiving circular mails. Normally, it is the golden opportunity of promotion and the peak time of adoption when a policy is newly announced and implemented.

However, after two months implementation, its promotion is indeed disappointing:

Extremely Low Usage of the Sticker

Hongkong Post had launched a public consultation before having the Sticker scheme. According to the consultation, 70% citizens consulted expressed support to the Sticker scheme, whilst one-third of the citizens consulted would place the Sticker on their letter boxes. However, in early November, we, Green Sense, discovered the extremely low usage of the Stickers when we logged in the system of Hongkong Post Circular Service (https://www.circular.hongkongpost.com).

According to the system, there are 3,614,303 delivery points throughoutHong Kongand there are 3,584,511 delivery points without the Stickers. In other words, the usage of the Stickers is less than 1%, sharply contrasted with the original target of 30%. The reason of the low usage is not that citizens are not interested, but citizens do not know the information of the implementation of the Sticker scheme and are difficult to get the Stickers.

Ineffective Promotion

We, Green Sense, had made an enquiry to Hongkong Post about the ways of promotion conducted for the Sticker scheme. Ways included: website, press conference, 2 pieces of notice, and notices for display in estate management offices of public housing estates and designated individual private residential developments. Among these ways, only promotion through website is long-term. Even worse, notices issued by Hongkong Post are simply black words without any decorative design. The attractiveness of the notices is low and will be removed within a short period. It is foreseeable that few citizens will acknowledge the Sticker scheme and get the Stickers. We have asked Hongkong Post why no posters are made. The latter replied the size of posters may be so big that the housing estates would not display them.

Difficult to Get a Sticker

According to Hongkong Post, stickers are distributed at all post offices, mobile post offices, public enquiry service centres of district offices, estate management offices of public housing estates and about one thousand (data updated till 7th Nov 2010) individual private residential developments. However, most of these distribution points closed after office hour and citizens have to queue up in order to get a Sticker. Citizens are therefore very difficult to get one Sticker after work if they do not live near post offices and do not work at distribution points.

An alternative way is to register through Hongkong Post website. Hongkong Post will post a Sticker to according to the registry. However, not only will a Sticker be posted, but only a piece of instruction of A4 size, which is basically the same information provided in the website of registration. What citizens want is the tiny little Sticker but not a big envelope with a piece of A4 paper.

As being citizens who do not want to receive circular mails of advertisement, we have to take action to reject circular mails, because-

More Than 90% Circular Mails from Commercial Corporation; Abuse of Population Census

Circular Mails could be sent to designated categories of citizens, for example, family income and age. Hongkong Post uses the data collected by Census and Statistics Department to have marketing strategy for the commercial corporations in providing Circular Mail Services. These data are, however, given by the citizens out of civic responsibility, with a hope of a better planning in future. The abuse these data by Hongkong Post also leads to instances of nuisance when citizens receive unnecessary circular mails. According to the information given by Hongkong Post, more than 90% circular mails are issued by commercial corporations.

Indifference towards Circular Mails in Letter Boxes Constitutes Manslaughter against 1,900 Trees Every Year

 According to the above mentioned survey conducted by Hongkong Post, at least 30% citizens would place Sticker on their letter boxes. However, only 1% has placed Sticker currently. If 29 % circular mails are in fact redundant, it means 32,000,000 circular mails are distributed unnecessarily each year. If each of the circular mails is of the size of 9 x 14 cm (the minimum requirement of the size of a circular mail), and made of 80 gsm paper, 1,900 trees have to be cut down. In other words, if the current extremely low usage of Sticker increases to 30%, 1,900 will be saved every year.

Our suggestions to Hongkong Post, estate management offices of public housing estates and citizens are as follow:

-           Put Stickers in areas which allow citizens to take conveniently, for example, near the stickers of Air Mail. Therefore, citizens can get a Sticker without queuing up.

-           Design posters for promotion and display them at every distribution points of the Stickers.

-           Apart from having recycling boxes for waste paper, each building should also have recycling boxes for circular mails. Interested residents can take circular mails from the boxes.

-           Owners’ Corporation of housing estates or private buildings can request a deletion of their housing estates or private buildings from the delivery list of circular mails.

-           Citizens who do not want to receive circular mails should take action by placing a Sticker on their letter box

Since the amount of circular mails directly affects the revenue of Hongkong Post (currently amounts to 6% of its total revenue from local mail services, which is about $30,000,000), there is a possibility of the decrease of revenue being the reason of the unsuccessful promotion of this new policy. However, we, Green Sense, as being a green group, will not accept the lukewarm attitude of the Hongkong Post towards the newly implemented policy. Hongkong Post should at least take steps in allowing more citizens to know about this new scheme. Citizens should also take action so as to avoid companies printing unnecessarily large amount of circular mails for them.

* All words and expressions should be construed according to the press release in Chinese.