November 28, 2016 4:40 pm
Updated: November 28, 2016 4:45 pm

Ecology Action Centre to study impact of flyer waste on environment

They continue to be a staple in many households across our region, but all too often, paper flyers end up as waste. Global's Natasha Pace reports.

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They continue to be a staple in many households across our region, but all too often, paper flyers end up as waste.

“It is alarming. And I think what is really alarming is that people are receiving ad mail that they don’t want to receive,” said Ryan O’Quinn, membership & development coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.

O’Quinn said many people “unwillingly” receive flyers — either in the mail or delivered to their home — which go to waste.

He said part of the problem is that people need to opt-out of getting flyers, instead of opting-in to the service.

“You can post a ‘no flyers please’ sticker on your mailbox but that becomes more challenging for people who live in condos and apartment buildings,” said O’Quinn.

“So, what you might notice is when you go into apartment building, you open the door and there’s stacks and piles of flyers everywhere. That’s also just proof that it’s not being done well.”

Many big box stores continue to advertise deals primarily through traditional advertising means, like flyers. But some small, locally owned businesses are embracing the digital age.

Gateway Meat Market has advertised exclusively online since they opened nine years ago.

“We kind of saw that trend coming and we try to keep our overhead really low, so an emailed flyer that you put on Facebook and the website is a lot more cost effective then printing flyers,” said Tamara McKay, owner of Gateway.

Not only is online advertising a fraction of the cost of paper flyers, McKay said it also allows her to reach a wider range of consumers.

“We have about almost 30,000 people signed up to our flyer and they all just sign up on our website, so the flyers are going to the people who really want it the most, not just everybody in hopes they’re going to come to our store,” she said.

Businesses like the Medicine Shoppe in Dartmouth continue to use a monthly flyer.

Owner Brian Dillman said some consumers, especially seniors, enjoy receiving the paper copy.

“They still like to get something to read, to actually put their hands on,” he said.

“We tend to go with a monthly theme, for example, a disease state or if it’s let’s say diabetes month and we tie in our advertisements to that.”

Dillman said they are looking to branch out with their business and recently launched an app.

“We are looking at also doing some digital media, especially as more and more of our younger seniors become more tech savvy.”

The Ecology Action Centre said there is little to no data available to determine exactly how much waste paper flyers cost, so they’re about to start their own study to find out.

“We’ve got five of our members who have a ‘no flyers please’ sticker on their mailbox and five who don’t, who like getting the ad mail. We’re actually going watch the amount of waste coming in, flyer waste coming in, and then weigh it and equate it to how much it is for one living tree,” said O’Quinn.

The results of the study will be available in the new year.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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