As in many countries in Europe, Danish citizens can sign up to receive a “no thanks” sticker to put on their mailboxes to ensure that they will not receive advertisements distributed in the home in the future, such as supermarket discount.
The label tends to change color from year to year, but several Danish stakeholders, including supermarket chains and nature conservation institutions, have called for the message to be changed.
The organizations propose to change the opt-out scheme so that consumers say: “ha tak” – the Danish for ‘yes, thank you’ – to receive announcements in the mailbox, providing for a limit on the use and waste of paper. By saying yes, advertisers will be able to know how many citizens are actually interested in receiving brochures, giving a better estimate of how much should be printed.
The Danish government is intrigued by the possibility of introducing such a scheme in consideration of the environment. Denmark is the largest producer of municipal waste per capita in the European Union, with around 840 kg per inhabitant per year.
According to the Danish Waste Association, between 57,000 and 100,000 tonnes of paper advertisements are distributed in Denmark, most of which are recycled. A 2020 analysis by the Dutch consulting and startup company Metabolic showed that the municipality of Copenhagen alone recycled more than 178,500 tonnes of paper and cardboard.
Even though the majority of magazines in Denmark are printed on paper sourced from sustainable forestry, have eco-labels and are recycled up to 7 times, eliminating large quantities of ready-to-throw magazines could help the country reduce its poor performance in terms of waste and help reduce CO2 emissions.
Retailers are backing this scheme as this practice can help them reduce emissions without lowering their profits or introducing additional measures. Also, knowing who will want to receive such magazines distributed in homes will give them the possibility to better target their consumer.
In 2019, the Danish supermarket chain Coop had already included this measure in its climate goals. The company aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 75 percent, while the discount brochures cost around 330,000 tons of CO2 per year to produce and distribute, consisting of a total of 84,000 tons of op paper which is then they would be discarded.
But, in fact, there is a fear that this will negatively affect other sectors, as a “ja tak” scheme will make it difficult for Danish printing companies and graphics industry to prosper. In addition, to reduce distribution costs and emissions, the measure could mean a decrease in employment for those who deliver advertisements door to door, generally young people under 18 years of age.