The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is the trade association for the UK’s very large garden centre industry. The association’s National Garden Gift Voucher scheme is the UK's longest-running garden consumer promotion. It drives around 2 million visits into garden centres each year. And the gift cards, which can be purchased from most garden centres in the UK, are now made by Green Gift Cards UK using Iggesund’s Invercote paperboard.  
 
“The HTA, given the industry they are in, are very in tune with their environmental impact,” says Graham Lycett, Managing Director, Green Gift Cards UK. “They are not new to cardboard, but they came to us because they wanted the best for their business.” 
 
Green Gift Cards has produced around 500,000 gift cards using Invercote for the HTA, and there are orders for more on the way. There are varying seasonal designs, which can be used throughout the year, according to the relevant season. 
 
The HTA were attracted to Invercote because of its environmentally friendly properties, and each new card’s proud statement on the back says: “This responsibly sourced card can be recycled or composted.”  
 
“The HTA are living and breathing the vision to convert from plastic to paperboard,” says Lycett. “They have embraced this idea and are using their paperboard card as a marketing tool to convey how they actively look at ways to reduce their impact on the environment.” 
 
The unique uncoated iteration of Invercote is used for the HTA card’s M6 snap all-in-one solution, which involves the HTA standard credit card sized card being part of the hanger rather than a separate cards attached to a cardboard carrier, a product pioneered by Green Gift Cards. The HTA card can be snapped off the carrier, which means no other packaging or carrying devices are needed for in-store display. “We worked tirelessly to make that functionality work,” Lycett says. “Many people thought it would be too weak and fall apart in the store, but because Invercote is so strong there was no problem.” 
 
Lycett has been using and promoting the value of Invercote in the UK for many years, and not just because of its green credentials. “It works technically very well too,” he says. “It is very rigid, because of the fibres that are made from spruce and pine, but also very flexible – it doesn’t crack. And the colour of the board is more natural, the OBA (Optical Brightening Agents) is not overly blue, so colours can be printed accurately on it and the quality of the print is strong.” 
 
Another company that Green Card has recently produced gift cards made from Invercote for is Photobox. This online service company produces albums, books and other gifts from photographs that customers upload themselves. The company is very much a digitally focused one, but wanted a new hybrid digital and physical gifting solution. 
 
“Giving a gift through digital mean can seem a bit cold,” says Juliette Savage, Commercial Director, Green Cards. “And a hand wrapped physical gift card still has a lot more of a wow factor than an email. So physical gifting will never be fully replaced by digital gifting.” 
 
When Photobox came to Green Cards, the online service already had a digital gifting solution, but they wanted to complement it with a tangible one and they understood the strong proposition of using paperboard. “Many of the smaller brands that come to us don’t want plastic,” says Lycett. “They are very environmentally conscientious. And with Invercote we have a solution for them, which, because of the way that Invercote is made, from seed to sheets, to finished card, no other product compares from an environmental point of view.” 
 
Lycett adds that he is seeing more and more brands, big and small, switching from plastic to paperboard for the manufacture of gift cards. “Change is definitely happening,” he says. “I would say that around 40 per cent of the cards in the UK are now on board. The trend to switch from plastic to board is growing and there will be very few plastic cards in the next five years. I’d say there is a quiet revolution underway.”  

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