‘For over 30 years, I have been one of the industry’s strongest advocates for keeping a greeting card pristine in a glass-clear, polypropylene bag… However, the world has changed. We cannot continue to pollute our planet as we do. Single-use plastic has become an anathema in today’s world with no satisfactory means of disposal,’ so begins a letter that Paul Woodmansterne, managing director of Woodmansterne Publications has just sent out to the publisher’s customers to herald the company’s official switch to supplying all its cards unwrapped, using a specially developed Smart Seal peel-off label to keep the card with the envelope.
In his letter, Paul acknowledges the practical advantages of cellowrapped cards – ‘it stops the envelope drifting from the card, it keeps mucky fingers from besmirching the product, it helps to keep retail displays neat and tidy’ as well as the joyous ‘ritual of pealing open a meticulously-wrapped greeting card’. That said, and despite the fact that the company has recently spent almost half a £million on new wrapping machinery, Woody’s head honcho delivers the strong and inclusive message that ‘We cannot continue to pollute our planet as we do’.
As Paul points out single-use plastic (which includes cello bags for cards) has become ‘an anathema in today’s world with no satisfactory means of disposal. We have learnt that all film (compostable, biodegradable or otherwise) ends up in landfill or incineration, since supposedly ‘good’ film is indistinguishable from ‘bad’.’
Having investigated various options, and by working closely with greeting card printers Windles, the Smart Seal was arrived it, the new product name superceding the working title of ‘Seal-Close’ that was unveiled on PG Buzz in mid January (read more here).
As demonstrated on its stand at the recent Spring Fair, the Smart Seal is a solution to keep cards and envelopes both clean and tidy without the need for plastic. “All our cards are either gloss-varnished or printed on felted board that is protected from mucky fingers by an invisible coating that repels grease and dirt,” explains Paul pre-empting retailers’ concerns about product soilage.
That said, Paul is reassured by the reaction from retailers on Woodmansterne’s decision to go naked. “I thought that, like me, many retailers would be reluctant to change, but in recent trials two facts emerged: first, that consumers continue to buy unwrapped cards without question, and second, that higher-priced cards (ones with extra finishes or embellishments) tend to sell even better. Of course, over the last 30 years, unbagged cards have been traded successfully in many retail environments. I am confident that, in time, we may well be asking ourselves why we didn’t switch earlier.”
Woodmansterne is now in full production of using a Smart Seal on its cards and these will be rolled out to retailers as existing bagged stock is used up.
The introduction of Smart Seal is one in a series of developments on the environmental front over the last year. Read the full story here.
Further developments planned for this year will also see Woodmansterne replacing the plastic trade-unit bands it currently uses with paper ones, by which time, together with recycled paper box infill, the publisher claims it will have become totally plastic waste free.
Top: Woodmansterne’s Smart Seal in action.