Two High Street retailers have recently sold greetings cards that could be contributing to forest destruction. The testing, organised by WWF-UK and carried out by a laboratory in Germany, tested 20 cards and envelopes. Three products, bought from Paperchase, the Card Factory and Clinton’s contained various amounts of Mixed Tropical Hardwood (MTH), meaning that the fibres had most likely come from natural growth tropical forests.
Of the three retailers, one, Paperchase, seems able to provide evidence that their product was from a sustainable source. This highlights the need for firms to carefully scrutinise their supply chains to reassure themselves and their customers that their products are not contributing to forest destruction.
More cards are bought per person in the UK than in any other country, with an average of 31 per person bought every year, and last year the UK market for greeting cards was valued at £1.29 billion. Due to legislative loopholes, it is possible to legally sell imported cards that have been made from illegally-logged or cleared forests. WWF wants the loopholes closed and firms to take proper responsibility for their supply chains. WWF believes consumers should be confident that the cards they buy are not contributing to the illegal logging or unsustainable harvest of forests in places like South East Asia.
Beatrix Richards, Head of Corporate Stewardship Timber and Seafood, WWF, said;
“These results suggest that the true cost of our Valentine’s card 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 consumers that they are buying cards made from recycled or sustainable materials.”
Over thirty UK businesses have already signed up to WWF’s Forest Campaign that will help enable a market in 100% sustainable timber and wood products by 2020, including Carillion Kingfisher, Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Travis Perkins.
Deforestation is an issue affecting some of our most important natural forests around the world, and with global demand for wood set to triple by 2050, businesses and countries need to get their act together in order to ensure a sustainable supply for the future.
The European Timber Regulation (EUTR), which came in to force in March 2013, was set up across Europe to remove illegally sourced timber from the EU markets.
Due to loopholes in the EUTR it is currently legal to import certain goods made from illegally sourced wood, such as greetings cards, musical instruments or books. These exemptions mean that some firms may be unwittingly or deliberately purchasing materials from dubious sources.
20 cards and envelopes from three outlets were tested by the Institution for Paper Science and Technology in Darmstadt, Germany.
The lab results found that one from each of the stores contained MTH (Mixed Tropical Hardwood):
Card Factory – 10% MTH (in the card itself)
Clintons – 8% MTH (in a paper component of the card)
Paperchase – 5% MTH (in the envelope)
The results shown here are products on the market in the UK that contain pulp from natural growth tropical forests – in this case, probably SE Asia. In addition all of the products contained acacia, which carries a risk of being grown in plantations that have been created on recently cleared tropical forest.
More information on WWF’s forest campaign can be found at www.wwf.org.uk/saveforests
FAO’s State of the World’s Forests 2014 report outlined key findings on just how critical forest resources are to billions of people worldwide for their livelihoods. Forest provide them with socio-economic benefits including employment, fuel,, water and shelter.
Global deforestation rates are currently estimated at around 13 million hectares per annum, which is equivalent to an area the size of a football pitch being cut down every two seconds.
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into force in March 2013. It covers a wide range of timber and wood products, as listed in its annex using EU customs code labelling. The EUTR also applies to timber products whether they were harvested in the EU or outside.
EU member states are responsible for overseeing and applying the law – which means that all 28 EU countries must take active steps, and designate appropriate resources, to do so.
For the EUTR to work in practice it will need the active participation of industry, government and civil society stakeholders, as well as even implementation across the EU.
Following the publication of WWF report on what is in or out of scope of the regulation, it is clear that the EUTR only covers 41% of all products by value. There are a wide range of products not covered by the regulation such as greetings cards, musical instruments and books.
WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature thrive. Find out more about our work, past and present at wwf.org.uk.