I just bought a card for some friends. It was published by a company called Portfolio, London. It has the following printed on the back:

enter image description here

1. What do these symbols mean?

2. Where do they come from?

3. To what extent is the card recycled?


To start with, the sentence "Environmentally friendly as symbols below show" sounds dodgy, especially seeing how uncommon the symbols feel. I guess they designed them to look uniform on the product, but the overall thing looks very dubious. Google Image searches of each separate symbol did not yield anything similar.

Two trees This one looks so generic it's hard to tell. "This paper was made from trees", maybe? :) They probably want to look like they comply to some forestry standard (think FSC).

Recycle it This one is probably just a way to say "please recycle this", as the "R" on the bin would suggest. Just a common "tidy man".

ECF As THelper commenter, this probably means "Elemental Chlorine-Free bleaching", which reduces the formation and release of dioxins (persistent carcinogens) during the bleaching process of wood pulp. TCF (Totally Chlorine-Free bleaching) would reduce it even further. By the way, most paper is either ECF or TCF in Europe nowadays, so it's not like they really went out of their way... (In 1996, already 40% of European mills operated TCF. Kraft was producing 75% ECF paper worldwide in 2005. In 2007, ECF's worldwide market share is 89%.)

Maple leaf This one looks a bit like the Canadian "Ecologo / Environmental Choice" label, but looking like a label does not mean it went through the certification process...

ISO 706 ISO 706 (ISO 706:2004 in its most recent revision) is a standard about the "determination of the coagulant content (sieve residue) in rubber latex". From the look of it, could it be about a rubber band around the card? (This standard does not apply to paper coating.)


I just think they are trying to make themselves look good by inventing or copying labels, or citing a random ISO that they complied to (which probably wasn't their decision). I'd call this an example of greenwashing.

The UK Government (via DEFRA) states that "the true value of environmental claims and marketing rests on the assurance that claims are both credible to consumers, and reflect a genuine benefit to the environment", and that environmental claims and labels on products should be "clear, accurate, relevant and substantiated". The company selling this card evidently did a very poor job at it.

The article Environmental impact of paper gives an idea of what could actually be done to make paper more "environmentally friendly".

To answer your question: those do not tell us anything about how much the paper is recycled.

Reliable sources for "green" labels:

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