Forests to grow from old greeting cards

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The Independent Online
After a record number of Christmas cards were sent this year, nature conservationists are hoping that they will be recycled into new forests around the country.

Two of Britain's biggest high street names, the Post Office and Boots, are providing collection points on their premises for people to get rid of their cards throughout January and February. The money raised through the recycling effort will fund tree-planting projects.

For the first time the number of items sent through the mail in the four weeks running up to Christmas exceeded 2 billion, and this was dominated by Christmas cards. The figure works out at more than 30 items for every adult and child in the country.

Up till now almost all of these cards have ended up being dumped on landfill sites with the rest of the weekly household refuse. But from Thursday this week 6,200 post offices, one-third of the total in Britain, and all 1,225 Boots stores will take the old cards.

The two organisations have combined with recycling companies to turn them into cardboard packaging material. Experience from previous, smaller- scale Christmas card recycling schemes make them believe that they can collect several thousand tons.

Money raised by the scheme will go to the 12 English Community Forests, the Woodland Trust in Scotland and the British Conservation Trust For Volunteers in Wales and Northern Ireland - all for tree-planting schemes.

The Community Forests are areas on the outskirts of large towns and cities where the Government's Countryside Commission, the Forestry Commission and local councils are collaborating to create new urban fringe woodlands for people and wildlife.

The cards will only fetch a few pounds for each ton recycled, so this grand rescue effort can only raise tens of thousands of pounds, however successful it is. But the organisers argue that theirs is a better alternative than throwing them all away.