Paper products from the German retail sector often contain tropical wood, as analyses by WWF have revealed. Over the past few months, the environmental protection organisation, WWF, got the composition of a total 144 different products, including writing paper, note books, photo albums and address books examined. The results showed that tropical wood was found in almost 20 percent of the cases. “The results reflect badly on the companies,” said Johannes Zahnen, advisor for biodiversity at WWF Germany. “They allow cheap production in South-East Asia, without seriously thinking about the origin of the wood.”

The companies whose products were found to contain tropical wood include among others Depesche, Iden and Carstensen, whose items can be bought in almost every supermarket. According to legislation, companies are obliged to ensure the legality of certain paper products that are imported from abroad. A first step in the process is knowledge of the origin and type of wood used. However, according to Johannes Zahnen, the retailers have already failed to meet this necessary minimum requirement. He said: “They either did not know that their products contained tropical wood or they simply denied it. It is a clear infringement of the legal requirements.” Therefore, WWF is examining whether to press charges.

According to WWF, there is also an ecological and social obligation for the companies as well as the legal requirements. If tropical wood is found in paper, it generally comes from natural forests. “The rain forests of South-East Asia are an important habitat for many rare species of animals and plants. And they also play a decisive role for the global climate,” said Zahnen. He added that the destruction of the tropical forest for paper production is also especially annoying because environmentally compatible alternatives, such as recycled paper or paper from FSC certified production, have long been available.

WWF is calling on companies to finally face up to their responsibility and to conscientiously select their paper products and investigate their origin.