The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mark Schofield – 360-734-2951 ext.202

American Express and Chase Targeted for Junk Mail at Annual Credit Card Conference in Miami

Destructive Environmental Impact of Junk Mail Highlighted


ForestEthics and supporters sent a direct message to Chase and American Express at today's annual 'Card Forum and Expo' at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel: your junk mail hurts forests. An airplane flew the banner message "CREDIT CARD JUNK MAIL BY AMEX & CHASE HURTS FORESTS" back and forth repeatedly in plain view of the conference during its opening day.

While it is often the nuisance of dealing with a deluge of unwanted mail or the issues of privacy invasion that most frustrates people about junk mail, its impact on our environment-specifically forests-is of increasing concern.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, credit card companies alone mailed 1.4 billion solicitations (as reported in Three Issuers' Mailings Dominated 2010 Q4 Card Solicitations: Mintel, 4/4/11, PaymentsSource). That's roughly four credit card offers for every man, woman and child in the U.S.-in just three months. And Chase and American Express were among the most prolific junk mailers. Along with Citigroup, these companies were responsible for more than half of all credit card offers sent in the mail.

Along with that pile of mostly unwanted mail (typically less than 0.5% of recipients respond) comes a dramatic impact on our forests. More than 40% of global industrial forest harvest is used to produce paper products. And in Canada's Boreal Forest-North America's largest intact forest and the source of paper for many junk mailers-around two-thirds of harvested trees are utilized for pulp and paper.

Forests provide fresh air and clean water, life-saving medicine, and habitat for all sorts of animals-including humans. But unsustainable levels of paper consumption are driving logging practices that carry a heavy ecological toll: large-scale clear-cuts, fragmented wildlife habitat, and degraded water quality.

While some forward-thinking companies have recognized forests' tremendous value and taken strong steps to reduce paper consumption and improve the environmental attributes of the paper they use, other large corporations lag behind. Companies like Chase, American Express, Capital One, Bank of America, and Discover have yet to enact leading policies that will help ensure the protection of endangered forests.

"All companies that send junk mail are on notice. We'll hold them accountable for forest destruction," said Mark Schofield, Paper Campaigner at ForestEthics. "These companies need to demonstrate solid efforts to reduce consumption, maximize post-consumer recycled content in the paper they use, and rely only on credible forest certification for sustainably harvested virgin fiber."

Founded in 2000, ForestEthics is a nonprofit environmental organization with staff in Canada, the United States and Chile. Our mission is to protect Endangered Forests and wild places, wildlife, and human wellbeing--one of our focus areas is climate change, which compromises all of our efforts if left unchecked. We catalyze environmental leadership among industry, governments and communities by running hard-hitting and highly effective campaigns that leverage public dialogue and pressure to achieve our goals.