Sustainability in the Card Industry – Woodmansterne

Aug 7, 2023 | Environment

The Greeting Card Association’s series of blogs covering Sustainability in the Card Industry is designed to share good practice, celebrating the work that is being done in our industry to reduce our environmental impact and inspire others.

Well known greeting card publishers Woodmansterne are committed to using sustainable materials and practices wherever possible. As a third-generation family business, they understand the importance of protecting our environment and safeguarding it for the future (Seth Woodmansterne, MD, pictured above).

Woodmansterne design, produce and finish all their cards in Britain. They “make cards that feed the soul, lift the spirit and reflect British culture”, whether this is through the magic of Quentin Blake’s illustrations, the beauty of National Trust images, the iconic pattern of Emma Bridgewater designs, or the humour of Punch cartoons.

Woodmansterne are committed to using sustainable materials and practices wherever possible.

The environmental crisis is certainly one of the greatest challenges of our time. We have no choice but to continually work hard, innovate and improve all that we do to remove waste, and reduce our environmental impact. Consumers look to business to help them do the right thing, be it making products easier to recycle, or remove unnecessary packaging, without reducing quality or making purchasing cards harder.

Adam Osborne – Operations Director, Woodmansterne

Woodmansterne Products

Woodmansterne pioneered the ‘Smart Seal’ solution (see picture below) in 2019, moving away from wrapped cards and saving over 50 tonnes of plastic per year. Many others in the industry have adopted this approach.

Woodmansterne only use FSC® certified paper for all cards (and have done since 1998), envelopes are made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and have been since 2017.

They are trialling the use of 100% recycled paper for our cards. In 2022 launching ‘The Leaf’, a new range featuring the highly refined designs, printed on 100% recycled board. The envelopes use cotton fibres rescued from textile production.

Their Caltime by Woodmansterne Advent Calendars range was re-engineered in 2022. Most Advent Calendars are now virtually packaging-free, with complex and large format designs packaged in an innovative cardboard envelope. In 2023 their 3D advent calendars also became free of plastic packaging.

In 2020 Cello-bags were removed from their Christmas Charity Packs and moved to a plastic band that reduced plastic by 85%. In 2022 they went one better, and totally removed the plastic band, replacing it with a paper band and Smart Seal. Their entire product range is now plastic packaging free. The only item in that contains plastic, are the pet treat advent calendars which still need a plastic tray to keep the treats safe, but even this is made from recycled PET plastic (which is also recyclable).

Logistics and footprint

Woodmansterne do not send any waste to landfill from their two sites. Foil waste is burnt for energy (one tonne of foil waste creates enough energy to boil 3,500 kettles; that’s a lot of cuppas!) and they transport product between sites using an innovative stacking system which cuts their carbon footprint in half.

Their new site in Milton Keynes is fit for the future – it has been a Net Carbon Neutral build, with the most efficient ratings possible on a building. It has 99 roof panels that flood the building with natural daylight, solar panels  on the roof which pre-heat hot water, and rainwater is collected to flush the loos. In 2023 a 200KWp solar array will be installed, which will generate over 1/3 of their electricity needs.

A specialist compaction unit at their Distribution Centre is specially designed for cardboard waste, which maximises recycling and reduces recycling transport miles. Working with dedicated cardboard recycling experts CS Recycling from Hertfordshire, they ensure all cardboard waste is treated sustainably.

All lights at both sites are LED, with zones that are sensor activated so power is only used when required.

All Woodmansterne’s single cards shipped to retail are banded in trade units using paper tape rather than Polyethylene, with transit boxes cut down to size to reduce the need for void-fill, and where it is required, only paper void-fill is used. All transit boxes are sealed using webbed paper tape, to eliminate polypropylene tape maximise recycling.

While proud of our progress so far as a business, we recognise there’s no room for complacency. The more we can work together in the industry, the quicker we will progress on this journey. We cannot afford to wait, (and the younger generations certainly will not) for the Government to help join the dots on these issues.

Adam Osborne – Operations Director, Woodmansterne

If you have a story to tell, or information on changes you have made to your business to share, please contact the GCA so that we can share your story to inspire others.

Further Information

For latest information and tips on reducing your environmental footprint see the GCA’s Into a Greener Future blog

For other case studies, changes to the law and other important information please visit our members’ library and see our Environment section (please log in to see all relevant information)

This post is categorised as: