What do you do with political mail? As midterms near, mailers are on overdrive

Byby Melanie Woodrow via KGO logo
Friday, October 19, 2018
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THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF MAIL: "Daily we're probably shipping out 40 to 50,000 pounds of political mail," said John Lompa of Richmond-based printing shop Trade Lithography. But where does all that mail end up?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News wanted to see where all those campaign fliers, brochures and postcards are getting printed. We followed them from the printing press to the recycle bin.

"Daily we're probably shipping out 40 to 50,000 pounds of political mail," said John Lompa of Trade Lithography.

Trade Lithography in Richmond, Calif., prints so much of it, the local post office gave them a nickname.

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"They have said we're the kings of political mail," Lompa said.

From the printing press to the post office to your mailbox, how much is too much?

"All these big fliers, little fliers, just gobs and gobs of paper," said Kathlyn Araya who lives in Lower Nob Hill.

Araya said she looks it over, but Ed Missiaen of Nob Hill said he doesn't.

"It's a waste of paper," Cow Hollow resident Michael Lawler said.

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Araya said she recycles them all.

Recycle Central is the largest recycling facility in San Francisco. Along the initial sort deck we met employees pulling out plastic.

"Would it be better if there was less election mail? It would be nicer if there was a little less election mail but there are no rules about that," said

Robert Reed, a spokesperson for Recology, the company that runs the Recycle Central facility.

The only rule Recology really wants you to follow is theirs.

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"We want to make sure people recycle all their envelopes, all their postcards, any form of paper, including election mail," Reed said.

While you might want less of it, all this campaign mail is good business for the printing press.

"We would love to have this year round, but it's pretty much every other year," Lompa said.

After working up to 16 and 18 hour shifts, folks here know where they'll go when it's over.

"Hopefully on a vacation," Lompa said.

Before the next election cycle kicks in.

Take a look at full coverage on the 2018 election here.