By Amy North
Retailers including M&S and Sainsburys are taking it upon themselves to provide their customers with an in-store Christmas card recycling service this January in the absence of a government-supported scheme.
For the last 14 years the Woodland Trust has run a Christmas card recycling scheme in partnership with retailers including M&S, TK Maxx and HomeSense and was supported by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Waste & Resources Action Resource Programme (WRAP).
However the scheme came to an end in January 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story) due to a lack of funding and participants. A decline in the amount of cards being collected due to an increase in kerbside recycling collections was also a contributing factor.
Marks & Spencer has now launched its own Christmas card recycling scheme by offering its customers the opportunity to recycle their Christmas cards with in-store recycling bins in all of its large stores, with the aim of recycling over 10 million cards throughout the festive period.
Under the new scheme, cards will be collated in store before being collected by M&Ss recycling contractor DS Smith as part of its usual recycling service. The cards will then be transported to a distribution centre where they will be sorted and then taken to paper mills for reprocessing.
Tim Price, national commercial manager at DS Smith Recycling, told letsrecycle.com that there was still a demand for Christmas card recycling schemes.
I think the retailers offer Christmas card recycling as a service to their customers. The fact that it is used suggests there is a need for it, he said.
He also said that such schemes complemented kerbside collections, offering customers another outlet for some of the extra waste produced over the festive season.
The Woodland Trust will receive a donation from M&S based on the amount of cards collected in store for recycling. Every 1,000 cards equates to one new native tree being planted, meaning, if the target of 10 million cards recycled is hit, over 10,000 new trees will be planted throughout the UK.
Commenting on M&Ss scheme, Sue Holden, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said: We are delighted that M&S is continuing the highly successful Christmas Card Recycling Scheme this year. By recycling festive cards, M&S customers are helping the Woodland Trust to continue vital work in creating new woodland, as well as preserving the habitat of thousands of UK species.
To increase involvement in the scheme M&S are allowing customers to vote which region the trees will be planted in. The more votes a region gets the more trees will be planted there.
Supermarket chain Sainsburys is also running a similar scheme this year by providing Christmas card recycling bins in its larger stores throughout January. The Sainsburys scheme supports the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). A cash donation is made to the FSC based on the volume of cards received. Last year the FSC received a 10,000 donation from Sainsburys.
Commenting on its support of the FSC Jack Cunningham, head of environment at Sainsburys, said: Sainsburys is a long-term supporter of the FSC and over 93% of the wood used in our products is either FSC approved or from recycled sources. We are delighted that we can help our customers recycle their Christmas cards and in so doing further support the FSC.
Rival supermarket chain Tesco stated that it is not offering Christmas card recycling to its customers this year as it said that this material could be collected at the kerbside.
A spokeswoman for Tesco told letsrecycle.com: We found that most of our customers have doorstep collections which have card and paper collections in them so they prefer to recycle their cards that way.