Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Battle over plan to stop junk mail

Local groups fear their message will not get through if bylaw gets the go-ahead

Delivery of unwanted, unaddressed mail adds to the city's litter problem. Photo / Supplied
Delivery of unwanted, unaddressed mail adds to the city's litter problem. Photo / Supplied

Junk mailers of Auckland are being warned to expect a stop to their littering with a new bylaw - but voluntary community groups fear it will prevent them handing out their material.

A council committee yesterday heard concerns from North Shore groups on a proposed littering bylaw that sought to stamp out unwanted, unaddressed mail.

It is being considered as part of the council's task to formulate one solid waste bylaw to replace those of seven former councils. The proposal states that no one save official agencies can post unaddressed mail to letterboxes marked "no circulars", "no junk mail" or words with similar effect.

Campbells Bay Community Association chairman Max Thomson asked the committee to broaden any new bylaw to exempt voluntary community organisation newsletters and notices.

His letterbox had a sticker reading "No advertising material - please".

"But it's being over-honoured ... because we don't get the stuff we should have.

"We want the ability to stop the piles of advertising junk which come in, but at the same time be able to get our local community newsletters."

Debra Dunsford of the Milford Residents' Association agreed, saying that residents wanted their newsletters - in five years her group had never received a complaint about delivering its notices to marked letterboxes.

The planned bylaw was also criticised by the Marketing Association.

Spokesman Keith Norris said distributing unaddressed mail employs 9000 New Zealanders and revenue exceeds $80 million a year.

"Our preference is for no bylaw and council leaving it to the national code of practice," said Mr Norris.

"We agree that people shouldn't have junk mail if they don't want it."

He said that councils with similar bylaws since 2006 had not prosecuted anyone.

"Officers tell us they cannot enforce it. So what's changed?"

Former councils in the Auckland area have attempted to deal with junk mail.

Since 2006, North Shore and Waitakere City councils had a bylaw making it an offence to deposit unaddressed mail in three types of marked letterboxes, or to place them on parked vehicles.

The old Auckland City Council's bylaw referred to "clearly marked" letterboxes, or parked vehicles or into full letterboxes.

Neither Manukau, Papakura, Franklin nor Rodney had junk mail bans.

A spokeswoman for Auckland council yesterday said: "Delivery of unwanted material to mailboxes adds to the community's litter problem."

Q&A: The plan

What is affected?

Unaddressed mail.

What type?

Advertising material, clothing donation bags, circulars, leaflets, brochures or flyers.

Where does it apply?

Any letterbox marked "no circulars", "no junk mail", "addressed mail only".

What is exempt?

Subscribed newspapers, public notices and election material.

- NZ Herald

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