Banks, credit card companies, and other businesses are aggressively pushing consumers to receive their monthly statements electronically, but a new report by the National Consumer Law Center warns that these efforts can create more harm than good for consumers. The report notes that millions of Americans -- particularly lower-income, less educated, older, and households of color -- are on the other side of the “digital divide,” lacking home broadband Internet access. According to a recent Pew Research study: •59% of households with incomes under $20,000 and 53% of those with less than a high school education do not have home broadband Internet access. Even those with access may have older computers, slow connection speeds, or may lack a printer or money to afford expensive ink to print statements. •About half of Hispanics (50%) and African Americans (46%) lack access to home broadband Internet. •Over half (55%) of Americans 65 years or older lack home broadband Internet. Even if they have access, older consumers may be less comfortable with electronic statements or find them risky. Paper statements can be critical for family members who are trying to piece together financial records for an older consumer who is incapacitated or has passed away. The report also notes that mobile devices aren’t a substitute to home computers because of their smaller size and formatting and unsuitability for record keeping.
PEFC UK has launched a new certification system designed to enable small and medium-sized woodland owners to participate in forest certification.
The new online forest certification system aims to provide a simple and cost-effective solution to assist the UK’s small and medium-sized private forest owners to become PEFC-certified. The new tool is designed to help increase the UK’s certified forest area and boost the supply of certified material to the UK primary processing sector and its customers.
The online tool was launched at a special Press Lunch in central London during a rare UK gathering of major figures from PEFC, including PEFC International Chairman, William Street, and CEO Ben Gunneberg, to discuss key issues surrounding the global forestry, construction, paper and packaging industries.
While PEFC forest certification has been established in the UK for five years, it has long been recognized that a cost-effective certification solution was required to enable smaller woodland owners to participate in certification. Certified materials are now increasingly requested by a growing number of forest product users including retailers, the construction sector, energy suppliers and a growing number of consumers.
More than one million hectares of UK forests have been certified to PEFC’s sustainable forest management standard since 2010. This covers all the Forestry Commission forests in England, Scotland and Wales and 500 privately owned forest estates, including a number in Northern Ireland, managed through the Scottish Woodlands and UPM Tilhill forest Group Certification schemes.
Developed in conjunction with Dutch consultant Evan Buytendijk BV, PEFC UK are confident that the online forest certification system will act as an aid to Group Certification managers, to enable these schemes to function more efficiently, reduce costs and become a user-friendly means of assessing the compatibility of existing forest management plans with those required by UKWAS, and provide more consistent audits via a series of easy to follow online checklists.
“Forestry in the UK is entering an interesting phase,” said Alun Watkins, who heads up PEFC in the UK. “There is an ever-growing focus on homegrown material and the future will see large amounts of UK material entering the supply chain to fuel products such as new innovative engineered material and the biomass sector. It is really important that forest owners of all sizes seek to become certified as the market is now demanding responsible sourcing as the norm.”