Direct mail or junk mail is used by many companies and charities that rely on direct mail to tell people about their products and special offers. Some of this mail may be relevant and of interest to you but it is sometimes the case that this mail is unwanted and therefore a waste of paper and resources.

It may not be as simple as you would like, but it is possible to stop junk mail completely. The majority of junk mail can be stopped by signing up with the Mailing Preference Service, opting out of Royal Mail door-to-door service and using a letterbox sticker. Stopping the small remainder will take a little bit more effort but it can be done.

Register with the Mailing Preference Service

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) enables consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry for advertising. It may take a few months but you will see a noticeable difference in the post you receive.

Opt out of Royal Mail door to door service

If you don’t want to receive unaddressed mail, it is possible to opt out of the Royal Mail's door to door service by following the instructions on the Royal Mail website. Once Royal Mail has received your form they will stop delivering unaddressed mail within 6 weeks. Your opt-out registration will expire automatically after two years and Royal Mail will not remind you to renew

Use a letterbox sticker

Contact the waste projects team and we will send you a ‘No junk mail please’ sticker if you do not wish to receive free local newspapers and leaflets. Other than writing to every single business in your area and hoping they listen to your wish not to receive mail from them, a letterbox sticker is the only way to stop unwanted mail from local businesses. If you have opted out of the door-to-door service they also act as a reminder to your postman.

Email: [email protected]

Tick the opt-out box when you give your contact details

When you sign any form in which you have given you contact details look for a box which asks you to tick it if you do not wish to receive any further information about other products or services. But read the wording carefully – it may be asking you to tick the box if you WANT to receive information about products and services.

Opt out of the open electoral register

If you are British, Commonwealth, Irish or European Union citizen living in the UK, you are required by law to provide your name and address for inclusion in the Electoral Roll. You can remove yourself at any time from the open register (also called the edited register) by contacting the Electoral Registration Department of your local authority (this will be the council to whom you pay your Council tax).

Contact the sender

If you receive junk mail with a return address, write “Unsolicited mail, return to sender” on the envelope and put it back in the post unstamped. The sender will have to pay the postage and hopefully take you off their mailing list. If you continue to receive unsolicited mail from a company you should contact them directly and ask them to ‘stop using your personal data for marketing purposes’. Organisations are legally obliged to respect such a request.

Lodge a complaint

Compliance with the Data Protection Act is enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO can provide guidance and assistance on The Data Protection Act and deal with any complaints concerning organisations who do not comply with the Act.

If you are still receiving unsolicited mailings despite registering with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) it is possible to complain to the MPS.