Annual Report 2022/2023

Annual Report 2022/2023

About SMG​​​

The Sustainable Mail Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the mail industry in Canada to build a better, cleaner future. As the country’s leading voice for sustainable mail solutions, we promote large-scale sustainable change within the mail value chain representing paper manufacturers, marketers, printers, and mail service providers. Our mission is to be stewards of the environment, working within the direct mail industry to offer continuous thought leadership and sustainable solutions that meet consumer demand for responsible mail.

Guide the industry towards choosing responsible materials throughout the mail supply chain

Promote design for the environment and elimination of waste in the mail cycle

Educate members on carbon footprint measurement, best practices and reduction

Facilitate knowledge sharing about the sustainable mail value chain

Message From Ward Griffin, Chair of The Board​​

I am proud to present SMG’s inaugural annual report since our creation in 2021. SMG brings together company leaders, industry partners and other stakeholders to continue the mail industry’s ongoing progress towards enhanced sustainability. Our platform provides a forum for sharing best practices, thought leadership, and events, as well as promoting innovation that will advance us responsibly towards our goals. The mail industry creates great value for Canadians and for our economy. As the industry evolves, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve and continue to bring effective and sustainable solutions to our customers. Our members are doing just that, and SMG is a strong platform to showcase their successes. In this report, we highlight some of the outstanding contributions our members have made and provide a preview of our plans for the coming year.


SMG’s activities are all about bringing value to our members. In 2022, we hosted a series of five webinars on the latest hot topics with close to 600 people attending. Each event featured highly experienced industry experts sharing insight and practical knowledge on sustainability, the regulatory landscape and other themes. Please click on the links below to learn more.

  • Links between the current supply constraints and climate change
  • Current environmental best practices within the paper supply chain
  • Relative benefits of environmental certifications, recycled content, alternate fibre content and carbon neutrality
  • Effective strategies that can drive purchasing behaviour to more sustainable choices
  • The process of collecting data, measuring and reducing your carbon emissions
  • Understanding carbon footprint terminology
  • Why should businesses measure their footprint?
  • Conversations with business leaders who have gone through the process and its impact on their businesses
  • What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?
  • What direct mail marketers need to know
  • How does EPR work?
  • EPR resources
  • Making more conscious environmental decisions when designing a mail campaign
  • Importance of campaign data, form and measurement
  • Carbon neutral direct mail
  • Partnering with suppliers who prioritize sustainability
  • Insight into their regional programs which provide the resources, network, and support you need to help improve an organization’s environmental performance

Spotlight on integrated direct mail​

Direct mail has enduring power as a revenue-generating channel of communication. Combining print and digital is a proven strategy for driving even greater attention to brands. SMG is focused on bringing tools that our members can use to effectively integrate sustainability into their direct mail practices. Our Sustainability Best Practices for Direct Mail Marketing webinar highlighted the role of clean data, form factor, campaign measurement, the importance of working with vendors who prioritize responsibly-sourced materials and clean energy sources as powerful catalysts to a more sustainable piece of mail.

  • Canada Post found that 39% more time is spent with integrated direct mail and digital campaigns than digital-only1
  • Direct mail and digital drive 10% higher brand recall than single-digit media digital campaigns1.
  • Direct mail + digital drives 23% greater brand recall than email-only campaigns1.
  • 2/3 of shoppers indicate that print flyers continue to be relevant to them2.
  • Canadians are saying flyers have become more important to them in the last year, with a 53% result in 2022 vs. 49% in 20202.

1Canada Post, Connecting for Action, September 2016
2BrandSpark International, The Impact of Flyers in 2022

Member Case Studies​​

AIIM’s carbon neutral direct mail, a North American first​

AIIM, a leading provider of omni-channel marketing communication solutions, launched the Carbon Neutral Direct Mail Program, North America’s first and only carbon neutral direct mail from tree to mailbox. Collaborating with customers, the company set a goal for all direct mail produced by AIIM to be carbon neutral (net-zero through offsets), and to continue to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. To read the full article, click here.

Moving shared direct mail from plastic to paper at DRMG​

Direct Response Media Group (DRMG), one of Canada’s leading direct marketing companies distributing through 175 million shared media products, recently completed a major transition in its journey towards a more sustainable direct mail solution: moving from plastic to paper for its shared product solution. DRMG successfully transitioned over 20 million plastic wraps to the paper product. Its direct mail shared products are now 100% plastic free and, as a result, DRMG has eliminated 147,000 pounds of plastic in the mail stream. To read the full article, click here.

2023 Goals

The focus of SMG’s efforts in 2023 will be as follows:

  • Expanding membership: SMG’s attention will continue towards expanding our membership to more aptly reflect the diversity and breadth of the direct mail industry in Canada.
    • As part of that effort, we endeavour to continue conducting webinars to support our members in making informed decisions on how best to improve the environmental impact of their operations and their products.
  • Reducing plastics: One of the key areas of focus will be to work with our members to remove or minimize the use of plastics in the mail stream. 
    • To achieve this, SMG will collaborate with our members to develop a range of options tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. 
    • SMG will also work with our members to identify areas where plastics are being used unnecessarily.
  • Sustainable Direct Mail Design Guide: SMG will be publishing our Sustainable Direct Mail Design Guide in 2023. 
    • This tool will serve as a clear roadmap for our members in making sustainable choices for their direct mail solutions while complying with regulatory frameworks.
    • The Guide is the result of our partnership with Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Graphic Communications Management, to challenge a group of students to work through the development of a sustainable design guide to direct mail.
    • The Guide will be available both in print and electronically.


SMG partners with several organizations and working groups to foster increased collaboration and drive the industry towards a sustainable model. 

Canada Plastics Pact​​

We are an Implementation Partner of the Canada Plastics Pact, creating pathways for a circular plastics packaging economy, and we are a member of its Flexible Packaging Working Group. 

BMO Radicle​​

SMG has partnered with BMO Radicle to provide a discounted rate to our members to conduct their own carbon footprint and become a Climate Smart Business.

Thank you to our members and sponsors for your continued support.​

Become a Member

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