Skip to main content

More than half (52%) of UK adults assume well-known businesses that sell greetings cards offer sustainable products made from well managed forests, a YouGov poll for WWF has revealed.

The British are the biggest card senders in the EU, and almost 2 in 5 (39%) of us buy our cards from specialist card retailers, but in WWF's timber scorecard only one of the reviewed card sellers, Hallmark, scored highly on its sustainability policy and transparency for consumers. Card sellers like Paperchase and Clintons Cards received the lowest possible mark.

Despite the industry being worth an estimated £1.6bn at Christmas time alone, 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.

The regulation is under review by the European Commission in Brussels, and WWF has been campaigning to have 'loopy loopholes' closed, so that all goods that contain wood but are currently exempt from the EUTR, like books, cards, chairs and toys, are included.

There is no law requiring retailers to source their products from sustainable sources, and WWF is calling on businesses to ensure that the products they sell do not contribute to global deforestation.

Julia Young, WWF's adviser on sustainable and legal timber trade, said Consumers have told us time and again they want businesses to act responsibly and help them buy sustainably.

"Thousands of our supporters tweeted Paperchase and Clintons last week to try and persuade them to up their game. Clintons tweeted back that they are complying with the EU Timber Regulation, but say nothing about sustainability.

"Paperchase tweeted that they are sourcing from sustainable wood sources but we still can't find any policy about this on their website, and they are not responding to our direct enquiries about this. For such well-known brands, they should be demonstrating leadership on this issue.

"It's time our high street retailers listened to their customers - after all, it makes business as well as environmental sense to protect these resources from depletion."

The WWF-UK's #SaveForests campaign aims to get UK businesses to pledge to buy timber products from sustainable sources by 2020. Forests provide habitats for many endangered species, and also absorb CO2 and help the fight against climate change.

The campaign is designed to show that businesses can be part of the solution rather than part of the problems facing our global forests today, and that they can also help themselves secure a bright business future if they protect the natural resources required to sustain their business.

WWF asks the businesses to publish clear policies and stating how well they are doing in sustainable sourcing, so that customers can make an informed choice.

- ends -

For further information, please contact:

Rebecca Pain, rpain@wwf.org.uk
T: 01483 412303
M: 07971 149666

Notes to Editors.

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.

The Greeting Card industry

The Greeting Card Association estimates that the Christmas boxed card category is worth £200 million at retail and comprises 900 million cards in volume, arriving at a total market value of £1.6 billion at retail for 2014.
Christmas single cards show a value increase of £44m to £174.6 representing 13% of total value sales, with ARP of £1.55.
According to the Freight Transport Association, Royal mail estimates it deals with 700 million Christmas cards and 40 million parcels sent by internet shoppers during the Christmas period, but as many as one billion Christmas cards are sent and could end up in bins across UK.

Brits are biggest fans of greetings cards in Europe- and over half expect major brands to consider sustainability of their products.

· The UK is the largest greetings card market in the EU and with the value of single cards rising by 7.7% in 2014, this trend is set to rise.
· With such a large market in the UK, the attitudes of consumers could have an interesting impact upon businesses.
· Recent polling has revealed that over half of UK consumers (52%) asked believe that major card brands such as Hallmark, Clintons and Paperchase take the sustainability of the wood products which make their cards into account, with over a third (39%) of Christmas cards being bought from card shops.
· However, WWF UK's latest Timber Scorecard tells a different story, with well-known brands such as Clintons and Paperchase scoring zero because currently they don't share any information with customers about their policy on making sure the wood in their cards comes from healthy forests.
· WWF UK have opened conversations with both brands, and while some dialogue has taken place with Paperchase, as yet we have not seen anything in terms of a policy.
· In terms of what is important to consumers, of the factors listed, cost is the most important factor when choosing Christmas cards, with 45% people saying they consider cost when purchasing cards, closely followed by an attractive design with 44%. However, with 52% of consumers asked expecting that major brands do the sustainability thinking for them, WWF UK would like to challenge major brands to demonstrate that this is the case.

YouGov data
Greetings card data: YouGov poll November 2015
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,052 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th - 30th November 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Total sample size: 2,052 UK adults

Q1. From which, if any, of the following places do you usually buy Christmas cards? (Please select all that apply. If you never buy Christmas cards or if you usually buy eCards for Christmas, please select the relevant "Not applicable" option)
A supermarket 35% 721
Through a charity (either in store or online) 23% 476
A card shop (e.g. Clintons, Hallmark, Paperchase etc.) 39% 809
A market 6% 113
A retail/ department store (e.g. Next, Debenhams etc.) 14% 293
An online card store, not including eCards (e.g. Moonpig, Funky Pigeon etc.) 5% 93
Other 8% 158
Don't know/ can't recall 3% 60
Not applicable - I usually buy eCards for Christmas 1% 13
Not applicable - I never buy Christmas cards 15% 301
Q3m_rb. Which, if any, of the following factors would you say are important to you when choosing which Christmas cards to buy? (Please select all that apply)
That the cards are high quality enough that my friends/ family don't think I'm 'stingy' (i.e. ungenerous) 27% 558
That the cards have a beautiful design on the front 44% 895
That the cards don't cost too much money 45% 931
That the card material comes from recycled or sustainable sources (i.e. it doesn't contribute to global deforestation) 13% 276
That there's a contribution to charity from the sale of the cards 31% 628
That the cards are humorous 11% 225
None of these 3% 57
Don't know 2% 47
Not applicable - I never buy Christmas cards 15% 301
Not applicable - I usually buy eCards for Christmas 1% 13
Q2. Thinking about Christmas cards you receive...

Approximately, what proportion of these, if any, do you recycle, repurpose or reuse (e.g. sort them into a recycling bin, use them for crafts etc.) after Christmas each year? (Please select the option that best applies. If you never receive Christmas cards, please select the "Not applicable" option)
All of them 60% 1235
More than half of them 13% 273
About half of them 5% 94
Less than half of them 3% 54
None of them 11% 220
Don't know/ can't recall 5% 113
Not applicable - I never receive Christmas cards 3% 64
Net: Recycle, repurpose or reuse 81% 1656
Q4. For the following question, even if you do not buy or receive Christmas cards, we are still interested in your opinion. Thinking specifically about the Christmas cards sold by well-known card brands (e.g. Hallmark, Clintons, Paperchase etc.)...

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? "I assume these businesses generally choose paper/ card from well managed (i.e. sustainable) forests for their paper/ card-based products"
Strongly agree 10% 201
Tend to agree 42% 856
Tend to disagree 15% 306
Strongly disagree 3% 63
Don't know 30% 625
Net: Agree 52% 1058
Net: Disagree 18% 369
Timber testing

In May 2015 WWF-UK published its report: Do Timber Products in the UK Stack Up? - the results of a study to see if companies selling products not covered by the EU Timber Regulation had done sufficient checks to ensure they were at least from legal sources.

More information at www.wwf.org.uk/timbertesting "

Make a promise for our planet

Small actions can make a big difference. Find out how

Will you add your promise to the many made already?