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National Trust cuts plastic from membership cards

Melanie May | 26 February 2020 | News

The National Trust will no longer use plastic in its 5 million member cards, it has announced.
From the beginning of March, the charity will begin to remove 12.5 tonnes of plastic from the annually issued membership cards, which will now be made from a super-strength paper with a tough water-based coating. The paper is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the cards are being produced in a mill powered by its own biomass.
As well as being a fraction of the price to produce, the new ‘paper’ card will replace the old one, which was made from plastic and chalk, and can be composted or thrown away with paper as part of regular household recycling.
The National Trust believes it is the first time in the UK that the new, entirely recyclable and compostable material is being used for a membership card on such a large scale.
The new cards will begin arriving with membership renewals from March.
A recent survey showed that reducing the charity’s impact on the environment is high on the agenda for the Trust’s supporters with more than half of members prepared to make lifestyle changes to benefit the environment, and the majority saying that of the Trust’s actions to tackle climate change, reducing single-use plastics was their top priority.
Mel Nursaw, from the Trust’s membership team, said:

“Replacing our membership cards is a great step towards helping to reduce our impact on the environment, which we know is an important issue for so many of our supporters.”

The National Trust is undertaking a range of measures to help protect the natural environment and tackle climate change. It has committed to phasing out selling single use plastics, and is currently exploring how to transfer its physical cards to digital ones. Initiatives already undertaken include replacing food and drink packaging with compostable, plant-based materials; introducing a discount on hot drinks for bringing your own cup; offering free water to reduce plastic bottle use; moving to reusable plant pots and trays at its nurseries; and switching the wrapping on 4.5million members’ magazines from plastic to potato starch.
Other areas it is looking at include removing plastic from most of its greetings cards and wrapping paper; looking at alternatives to plastic tree guards; trialling cordial drink dispensers to reduce the sale of bottled drinks; and working with suppliers on more sustainable packaging for shipping.
Lizzy Carlyle, Head of Environmental Practices at the National Trust, said:


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“As an organisation committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and more beautiful natural environment, we are determined to use every opportunity to minimise our use of non-renewable resources, and cut down our waste.
“We have taken a number of significant steps to make improvements, but with an organisation the size of the National Trust it isn’t always something that happens overnight. We know there is much more we can do, and taking steps like replacing our 5m membership cards will significantly help us protect our environment.”