Paper Sourcing Guidance

Jan 7, 2016 | Environment, Design and Production Support

As an industry we have an excellent environmental record, with a very high percentage of cards sold in the UK being made from environmentally certified boards.

However, the GCA Council believes that the card industry still needs to act to ensure that there can be no room for criticism and that the public needs to be able to tell at a glance that all greeting cards are made from verifiably legal and sustainable paper/boards.

Any doubt in the public’s mind about the environmental integrity of greeting cards is damaging to our industry as a whole.
Therefore we urge members to ensure that the cards and envelopes they produce are made from board from legal and sustainable sources (ie certified recycled, FSC or PEFC paper/board) and to have the relevant logo printed on their products.
To help everyone we have produced a short list of recommendations and a simple 3 Step Guide, which are detailed below.
Please read these and act now.

GCA Recommendations

The GCA’s paper sourcing recommendations are as follows:

  • All cards and envelopes should be made from recognised certified or recycled sources: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) are the best-known certification schemes.
  • Wherever possible greeting cards should carry the relevant logo (FSC or PEFC) on the back page to prove and highlight their environmental integrity.
  • To print either of the logos on your cards you will need to source your board via an FSC or PEFC certified print company, as the logo must carry the printer’s unique Chain of Custody number – unless your business is accredited and you have your own CoC number.
  • If your printer is not yet FSC or PEFC certified, encourage them to become so or consider moving to a certified supplier, so that you can print the logo on your cards.
  • Do not make an environmental claim about your products unless you can back it up with the relevant evidence (eg saying ‘from sustainable sources’ or ‘two trees planted for every one tree felled’ has been discredited.)
  • Have a publicly available Paper Sourcing Policy on your website (we give help on this below).

Three Easy Steps to responsible paper sourcing

There are 3 easy steps to sourcing paper and board responsibly.

1 Check that you specify FSC, PEFC or recycled certified boards with your printer and make sure that they add whichever environmental logo applies to the back of your cards. Responsible printers will check that you are using their FSC logo, with their certification number. If you provide print ready files to printers, and you use multiple printers for the same design, you’ll need to ensure you have different print ready files for each printer. Check with your printer that you are using the correct version of the logo.

2 To be able to prove that your products are certified, specify that all your invoices from your printer and envelope manufacturer should state that the paper and board product is recycled, or FSC, or PEFC certified and include the printer’s/envelope supplier’s certification number(s). (It is not enough for it to be written on the invoice that the printer or envelope supplier is certified, as a certified supplier can still supply uncertified boards.)

3 Have a Paper Sourcing Policy. This is a statement that declares your approach to paper sourcing. We’ve provided some guidance below on writing a Paper Sourcing Policy. It’s recommended that you place this policy on your website, and any marketing material, such as catalogues.

Writing Your Paper Sourcing Policy Statement

To help you write your policy, we have developed some statement options, which set out how you might talk about your position. Your statement will depend on:

  • Whether your cards and envelopes are already made from FSC or PEFC board.
  • Your cards and envelopes are not currently made from environmentally certified sources, or you have a mix in your overall product offering.

If all your cards and envelopes are already made from recycled, FSC or PEFC certified paper/boards, writing your Paper Sourcing Policy is extra simple! Use the statements below which apply.

Paper Sourcing Policy #1

All the board and paper (e.g. envelopes) used in products that we purchase or specify is sourced from well-managed forests that have been certified to credible certification standards and/or are made from recycled materials.

As such we undertake to ensure 100% of the board and paper used in our products is sourced from FSC or PEFC certified or
recycled materials.

{edit as appropriate}

If you are using recycled boards specify the content of the board eg 100% post consumer waste or speciality materials such as algae or dung.

Paper Sourcing Policy #2

If your cards/envelopes are not yet made from FSC, or PEFC certified, or recycled sources, we suggest this wording:

We are actively working towards ensuring that all the board and paper used in the products that we purchase or specify is
sourced from well-managed forests, which have been certified to credible certification standards and/or are made from recycled materials. As such we undertake to ensure 100% of our products will be sourced either from FSC or PEFC certified, or recycled materials, by 2022. We will publish an annual update on our website to demonstrate how we are working towards this commitment.

{edit as appropriate}

Related links

Environment: FSC Factsheet for Card Publishers

Environment: GCA Factsheet (Update Oct 2019)

FSC – Forest Stewardship Council

PEFC – Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification


This article was first published on 7th January 2016 and updated on 6th December 2020.

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