Monday, March 10, 2008

Eco Envelopes Business Idea

Some 81 billion return envelopes are sent through the US mail each year in credit-card statements, utility bills and other direct mailings, at an estimated cost of 1 billion pounds in greenhouse gas emissions and more than 71 trillion BTUs of energy. Eliminate some of those by using reusable envelopes instead, and it could make a big difference for the environment. That’s the thinking behind ecoEnvelopes, a Minnesota-based company that aims to eliminate the use of reply envelopes from corporate America. Its alternative: a line of reusable envelopes that simply zip open, allowing users to insert their response or payment and seal them up again just like a regular envelope.

ecoEnvelopes was actually founded back in 2002, but it worked for years to perfect the design of its envelopes and obtain the US Postal Service’s approval—which it now has. ecoEnvelopes work seamlessly with existing insertion and postal processing equipment, and are manufactured exclusively on certified papers from managed forests, with up to 100% post-consumer recycled content.

And whereas "eco" options in general often cost more than traditional solutions, companies that use ecoEnvelopes instead of two separate envelopes save between 15 percent and 45 percent on envelope and related mailing costs by eliminating the need to print, store, handle, insert, track and include that second envelope, ecoEnvelopes says. They also enjoy increased direct mail response rates as high as 8 percent, it adds.

So many green solutions require complex changes to business processes or behavior and entail elaborate cost-benefit analysis, but every once in a while there’s an easy one, such as substituting one envelope for two. One to study if you’re in printing, direct mail or advertising!

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