WWF Germany's anti-printing PDF campaign exposes internal rifts

By Simon Nias, Friday 17 December 2010

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The 'save as WWF' campaign launched by WWF Germany this month has not only outraged the print and paper industries but, according to correspondence seen by <i>PrintWeek</i>, has caused a rift within the environmental organisation.

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WWF Germany's campaign is 'so simple it becomes misleading'

An email, allegedly sent by WWF International director of corporate relations Maria Boulos to WWF Germany executive marketing officer Dirk Reinsberg on 10 December, warned that the campaign was "misleading".

According to the contents of Boulos email, WWF Germany launched "a global product" (the WWF file format) "on a global website", without advising WWF International of its intentions.

This meant WWF International was "not able to advise [its Forest & Trade Network] partners ahead of time, nor any other partners with whom [it was] working on pulp and paper".

"This reflected very badly on WWF in some countries," Boulos wrote. "In WWF France, it might very well cost them a partnership."

The email claims that "no one is in disagreement with the core message behind 'save as WWF'"; however, it goes on to state that the initiative's "simple message on conserving paper…is unfortunately so simple that it becomes misleading".

"The message must be revisited to say that WWF is not against using paper, but that we are calling to reduce wasteful consumption of paper, increase recycling and promote purchasing of FSC labelled papers with lowest impacts on water and climate."

In the same email Boulos requested that the english-language site www.saveaswwf.com be shut down "immediately and temporarily" until the necessary amendments could be made, "including linking to other relevant tools promoted by WWF on panda.org and WWF's Check your Paper site".

She added that, if Reinsberg wished to maintain an online presence, the site should be domained to www.saveaswwf.de and in German only.

At the time of writing, none of the changes requested in the email had been carried out, despite Boulos' closing statement that the issue was "critically important" to WWF France and WWF US.

According to industry sources, the German wing of WWF has been known to be among the "more radical" of the environmental group's organisations.

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