Luxury brands failing to source sustainable timber, says WWF

17 July 2017

UK luxury retailers including Liberty, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges are failing to take sufficient action to ensure the timber used in wood products they sell are not contributing to deforestation, according to the WWF.

The WWF 2017 Timber Scorecard measures biennial progress on sustainable timber sourcing by 128 UK retail companies.

The scorecard awards each company a score from zero trees, for no apparent progress, to three trees, for sourcing certified sustainable wood and having policies and control systems in place.

The report found that 30 British businesses had shown little or no progress on sustainable timber and wood products and had provided inadequate communication about their purchasing policies.

Julia Yong, WWF global forest and trade network manager, said by ignoring calls to make their supply chains sustainable, some of the UK’s most luxurious brands were potentially playing a role in deforestation.

“With luxury brands you are paying a premium price—and this report shows that there is a risk when it comes to timber products and that this price tag could also come with a high environmental cost,” she said.

“Customers of luxury brands should not assume that in paying a premium price, social and environmental responsibilities have been met, as luxury companies could be unwittingly destroying forests due to their lack of clear commitments to sustainable souring of timber for the products, like many other businesses in the UK.”

The report showed that of the 30 businesses to score a zero in the 2017 scorecard, 15 of them had also scored a zero in the 2015 edition. 

The WWF said this showed they had “kept their heads in the sand” in their duties to responsibly source timber products.

The report said retail giants such as B&Q, the Co-op, Marks & SpencerWH Smith, and Sainsbury’s were among the best performers, which showed that it was possible for big names in diverse sectors to promote sustainable timber practices.

The latest report forms part of WWF’s wider responsible forest management research.

WWF has previously warned that primary forest areas are being depleted at an alarming rate in many forested countries, with Nigeria and Vietnam having reputedly lost 99% and 80% of primary forest respectively since 1990.

A previous report from WWF found that retailers that placed a strong emphasis on sourcing policies promoting sustainable forestry had built better relationships with both consumers and employees.

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