Ask LH: Can I Stop Free Newspaper Deliveries?

Ask LH: Can I Stop Free Newspaper Deliveries?

Hi Lifehacker, Where I live, local newspapers are delivered by people in cars or vans who throw them on the driveway. Their aim is often terrible and if it rains the papers turn to mush. Sometimes I come home and there are three or four on my driveway, lawn or jammed in the bushes. A nearby townhouse ends up with a small mountain of papers!

Since they are delivered by throwing from a van, they don’t see the no junk mail sign. I tried contacting one paper who assured me they would stop delivery but of course they didn’t. What are the actual laws or rules around this sort of delivery? It just seems like littering to me! Thanks, Paper Chaser

Newspaper picture from Shutterstock

Dear Paper Chaser,

Despite being chock-full of ads, local newspapers aren’t classified as unsolicited advertising material which means the usual consumer protection laws aren’t applicable. Laws surrounding the accumulation of waste also don’t apply to newspapers — they’re free to keep dumping papers on your lawn even if you refuse to remove them.

However, depending on which state you live in, you might be able to report the drivers for inappropriate newspaper delivery. In NSW for example, poorly delivered newspapers constitute littering, which is against the law. On its Office of Environment and Heritage website, the NSW Government suggests contacting your local council which is obligated to raise the issue with the publisher and/or distributor of the newspaper.

Before you get all gung-ho though, it might be worth contacting the local papers again and reminding them that you wish to be removed from their distribution list. (If at first you don’t succeed, incessant pestering usually gets the job done!) For faster results, you could try erecting a ‘No Newspapers’ sign that is easily visible from the road — we’ve heard this is a surprisingly effective deterrent.

If any readers have suggestions of their own, let Paper Chaser know in the comments section below.

See also: A Guide To The New Australian Consumer Protection Laws | Official: ‘Do Not Knock’ Signs Have Legal Effect | How To De-Spam Your Life


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  • I very highly doubt they’re doing it on purpose if they said they would stop – more likely the apathetic delivery guy at 4am really doesn’t remember/care who doesn’t want something they have a legal ability to provide you regardless.. Imagine if they had to check every address, it would cost them a fortune in productivity.

    Free papers are generally a good thing, though to me they should really be less.. seemingly run by and for old ladies. I’d love to see some of the types of free papers you’re likely to find at any jb hifi being delivered myself. Or at least something with some thought provoking sentiments – the kind that constructively challenge peoples values.

  • Nawww… poor diddums, would you like a tissue to cry into?

    i kid 🙂 but is it really that much of an annoyance to just pick them up and put it into a bin? yeah, i hate picking up wet paper too but i do what needs to be done.

    • Most people are against the waste, and if they are dlivered to an area of your garden that is not often visible from your daily routine they could sit there a week or 3 until you do the gardening next.

    • It is a legitimate question. It is unbelievable that if anyone else throw unsolicited junk onto your lawn they can be done for littering, but because it is someones opinion written on a piece of paper it is acceptable to carry out large scale dumping?
      I bet if it changed to an opt in system deliveries would drop to less than 10% and save a hell of a lot of trees. set up a local paper website as well. anyone who wants to can read it online

  • It is more than an inconvenience Luke – I travel a lot for work and a yard with a 5 day old newspaper sitting on it or a letterbox crammed full of them is an invitation for criminals.

  • In Adelaide the deliverer is told which houses don’t want the papers and the deliverer is instructed not to deliver a paper if the previous one is still in the same place.
    Also they are supposed to be on the driveway only.

    Source – I delivered the Messenger for a while.

    • I tried that in Adelaide. We accumulated over 20 mewspappers on the side of my driveway (clearly visible) and they kept throwing more.
      This is not just littering in my property, I’m against cutting trees for no reason. These newspapers go straight to the bin.
      Have free stations available for people that is interested but don’t throw them into properties

  • I heard a distributor of these papers call in to talkback radio a while back. She said that officially the “no junk mail” stickers don’t apply to them. However, “no advertising material” or even better “Australia Post only” signs should end their delivery.

    I live in an area with hand-delivered (rather than thrown from cars) newspapers, so I can’t guarantee it will work…

  • Personally I totally object to the barrage of unwanted, unsolicited paper material that is left on my property in what amounts to nothing more than common littering. It’s that simple.

    My partial solution is to have all my real mail sent to my PO Box which allows me to simply sweep ALL the junk and unwanted papers and crap into a garbage bag by the fist full. But if I am away travelling for work it’s not uncommon to come home and discover a garden full of blown-about catalogues and other paper material. Why does society seem to be accepting of this fibrous diarrhoea that’s spread about our neighbourhoods like so much smelly sticky unwanted faecal matter.

    This is still 2013 right ? I didn’t fall asleep and Superman came and spun the world backwards to 1976 when at least this form of junk mail had at least some relevance and purpose. We have internet and TV and radio still don’t we. Isn’t that enough advertunity ?

    If I want to sell my house… guess what… I will contact an estate agent. But not one of the ones who litter my garden weekly. Nor will I use ANY of the other local services and businesses that do likewise and treat my property as their own personal billboard. If wanted to learn Karate.. I would freaking do it… not because a piece of paper in my letter box said I should.

    I’ve never done it, and maybe one day I will, but I really want to gather up as much of this crap as I can and dump it neatly onto the front lawn of the home of one of the businesses that generates it all. I’m not littering… just returning “valuable” advertising material so that they may “recycle” it onto other unwitting fellow humans…

    Closest I’ve come is a couple of times I’ve notice the delivery people (and to be fair to them they are just doing a paid job) walking up my street and I’ve stood out at the mail box, with my garbage bag in hand, and I wait for them to shove the paper bundle into the mailbox, whereupon I take it straight out and into my garbage bag and put it back into the shed, ready for the next load to arrive. Am I being a giant DICK ? probably… ok definitely… but it makes me feel at least somewhat in control of the situation.

    feeling better now 🙂

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