UK consumers 'wrongly believe greetings cards are ethically sourced'

21 December 2015

UK consumers wrongly assume that greetings card companies sell ethically sourced products, a survey has found, even though only one company has been ranked by WWF as having a sustainable timber policy.

WWF’s timber scorecard assesses the publicly available timber-buying policies of 128 UK retailers, manufacturers and traders. Companies are awarded between "zero trees" – no apparent progress on sustainable timber and timber products; and "three trees" – sustainability policies are in place and more than 70 per cent of timber sourced is sustainable.

Only Hallmark scored three on the WWF’s timber scorecard, with Paperchase and Clintons receiving a zero tree score.

Yet 52 per cent of just over 2,000 UK adults surveyed by YouGov for WWF said they assumed greetings card retailers source sustainable products made from well-managed forests. Some 39 per cent of respondents said they bought their cards from a specialist retailer.

Greetings cards are among the products not covered by the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which is designed to keep illegally sourced timber out of the marketplace. WWF have been campaigning to extend the regulations to all goods that contain wood, which are currently exempt, including books, cards, chairs and toys.

The research was commissioned by WWF as part of its Save Forests campaign to get UK businesses to pledge to buy timber products from sustainable sources by 2020, and publish clear policies that outline their progress in sustainable sourcing.

“Consumers have told us time and again they want businesses to act responsibly and help them buy sustainably,” said Julia Young, WWF’s adviser on sustainable and legal timber trade. “It’s time high street retailers listened to customers – after all, it makes business as well as environmental sense to protect these resources from depletion.”

Clintons and Paperchase responded on Twitter to questions regarding their sustainability policies, Young said. “Clintons tweeted that they are complying with the EU Timber Regulation, but say nothing about sustainability,” she said. “Paperchase tweeted that they are sourcing from sustainable wood sources but we still can’t find any policy about this on their website. For such well-known brands, they should be demonstrating leadership on this issue.”

A spokeswoman for Paperchase said the company intends to have full accreditation from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) across all its card ranges in 2016.

“At least 92 per cent of Paperchase Christmas cards are made from sustainable wood sources and the vast majority have FSC accreditation,” she added. “Paperchase no longer work with suppliers who do not have FSC accreditation.”

Clintons did not respond to SM's request for comment.

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