WWF has called on firms to “scrutinise their supply chains” after it found Valentine’s cards from high street shops contained wood fibre that could be contributing to the destruction of rainforest.
The NGO bought cards from retailers Paperchase, Card Factory and Clintons and, following testing, found they contained tropical hardwood fibres that “most likely had come from natural growth forests”.
“Of the three retailers, one, Paperchase, seems able to provide evidence that their product was from a sustainable source,” said WWF.
The charity said due to legislative loopholes it was possible to legally sell imported cards that have been made from illegally logged forests, and it is campaigning for the EU Timber Regulation to be toughed up.
Beatrix Richards, head of corporate stewardship - timber and seafood at WWF, said: “These results suggest the true cost of our Valentine’s cards could be far greater than the price on the wrapping. They may be contributing to the further loss of some of the most valuable forests in the world.
“Companies that rely on forests for their raw materials should scrutinise their supply chains and reassure customers that they are buying cards made from recycled or sustainable materials.”
According to WWF, more greetings cards are bought per person in the UK than in any other country, with an average of 31 per person bought each year. In 2014 the greetings card market was worth £1.29 billion.
Card Factory said EUTR did not apply to greetings cards, but it operated as though it did and the “vast majority” of its cards were made in Yorkshire and it had “established a clear chain of custody over all paper we use”.
A spokesman said: “The card in question was made by a third party supplier. It was produced in 2012 before EUTR came into force and before we introduced further controls over our sourcing from third party suppliers.”
Clintons said the supplier concerned was FSC accredited but it had withdrawn the cards from sale. “This report has raised concerns which we are addressing with our supplier,” said a spokesman. “The cards have been withdrawn from sale. We will continue to strive to ensure the ethical sourcing of our timber products.”
The Greeting Card Association said: "All cards manufactured in the UK are printed on paper and board from certified sustainable sources as a matter of course. The vast majority of the overseas production is now also chain of custody certified, with 100 per cent adoption in sight. We are confident that no illegally logged trees are used for making greeting cards by the UK card industry."