Major brands are failing to perform on sustainable sourcing | Credit: Simon Rawles/WWF
Big name retailers including Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols score ‘zero trees’ on this year’s timber scorecard from WWF
Some of the UK’s most well-known luxury retailers have inadequate policies in place to ensure their timber comes from sustainable sources, according to the findings of a new report released today by WWF.
The charity’s Timber Scorecard Report, which assesses the sustainability of companies’ timber sourcing policies, found several major retailers, including Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Harrods, all failed to set out clear commitments to ensure sustainable timber policies are adopted and provide no information on their current sourcing practices.
Both Liberty and Harrods failed to improve their rating from the last scorecard in 2015, when they also received “zero trees” for their sourcing policy, while Harvey Nichols and Selfridges were rated for the first time this year.
In total 128 companies were assessed across key sectors including furniture, building materials, paper and general retailers, with each given a score of between one and three for their sourcing policies. Thirty firms received a zero rating, while 40 companies scored a rating of three trees.
The UK is the third largest importer of forest products in the world. WWF warned the firms with low scores in the report risked contributing to the deforestation of some of the world’s most precious resources through their poor sourcing arrangements.
“With luxury brands you are paying a premium price – and this report shows that there is a risk when it comes to timber products that this price tag could also come with a high environmental cost,” Julia Young, global forest and trade network manager for WWF, said in a statement. “Customers of luxury brands should not assume that in paying a premium price, social and environmental responsibilities have been met; as luxury companies could be unwittingly destroying forests, due to their lack of clear commitments to sustainable sourcing of timber for their products, like many other businesses in the UK.”
In response to the findings, Harvey Nichols insisted it is “committed to sustainable and responsible practices across all areas of its business”, adding it is currently reviewing its code of conduct around timber.
BusinessGreen also contacted Selfridges, Harrods and Liberty for a response to the scorecard – at the time of going to press they were considering the request.
Some of the top-scoring companies with the most robust timber sourcing policies included Boots, Sainsbury’s, B&Q, Marks and Spencer, and WH Smith, which were all commended for reporting on their timber and wood purchases with “clarity and simplicity”.
The companies were also praised for declaring the proportion of certified sustainable timber they purchased, and indicating how progress on sourcing has changed over time.
Young urged the lower scoring firms to follow suit. “We don’t have time for these companies to act as though there are endless resources to make a profit from without taking responsibility for their future,” she said. “Other companies have embraced sustainable forests, so there is no excuse for expensive brands to drag their heels.”