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


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact tab on the right.


9 responses to “Ask LH: Can I Stop Free Newspaper Deliveries?”