U.K. union Unite urges WWF to meet with it and industry leaders on concern that WWF's green file format could have negative consequences for U.K. print and paper workers
December 21, 2010
– Unite, the UK's biggest union with membership in the printing and papermaking industries, has urged one of the country's biggest charities to work with it on its latest campaign to promote a sustainable papermaking industry.
The union is worried that the message from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is out of step with current thinking on UK and European paper production, which is among the most progressive in the world when it comes to its green credentials. Unite is asking the charity to meet with it and industry leaders as a matter of urgency for fuller discussions on the hopes and messages of the WWF's campaign, fearing that it could have negative consequences for print and paper workers in the UK, many of whom share the ideals of the charity.
Last week, the charity urged computer users to adopt a ‘green file format’ which prevents a document from being printed. However, Unite says that this advice doesn't just put good UK paper and print industry jobs at risk, it is also out of step with latest practice within the industry in Europe and North America where trees are harvested and replanted in sustainable forests.
Unite assistant general secretary, Tony Burke, said: "Paper can be totally recycled and is bio-degradable. Harvesting trees in a sustainable way - as we are campaigning for - helps the environment, helps wildlife and helps produce clean air and water."
Writing to David Nussbaum, the chief executive of the WWF, Tony Burke, says the danger of the charity's campaign is that it may confuse the public - and that it may fail to address the real environmental vandals including those engaged in illegal logging notably in south Asia, where trees are harvested and not replaced leaving thousands of acres bare.
In his letter to the WWF Tony Burke writes: “WWF’s statements regarding the effects of printing on paper is, in our opinion, misleading in that it could lead members of the public into believing that by not using printed products or indeed printing out documents onto paper, will ’save trees’ and hence improve the environment.
“I am sure that it was not the WWF’s intention for a misleading slant to be placed on your decisions, however there is some concern among our members in the printing and papermaking industries about your recent announcements.
“The papermaking, printing and indeed paper recycling industries provide employment for thousands of workers throughout the world, who care for the environment and who support all initiatives to help preserve and replenish forests.
“Therefore I am writing to ask you to meet with me and representatives of the printing and paper industries in the UK as a matter of urgency in order that we can discuss our concerns directly with your good selves.”