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New paper membership card from the RPS erodes its reputation

Proud as I am to be a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), I would be loath to confirm it by producing the tawdry piece of paper that is now my membership card. This substitute for the smart plastic identifier that I formerly carried may be saving the RPS a few pounds but surely diminishes the standing of its members, and, by association, erodes the reputation of the organisation.

Peter Lowe, Newcastle upon Tyne

Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member experience at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:

“Dear Mr Lowe. Thanks for your views, I’m sorry that you don’t think this was the correct decision. We made the change first because we listened to members who got in touch to let us know they were concerned about the environmental impact of getting a new plastic card each year. Second, we are committed as an organisation to be ‘green’ in any way that we can. We recycle and use solar panels on all of our offices, encourage members to use our online publications rather than print, and keep our carbon footprint as low as possible. With these things in mind, we decided to trial a new form of card to move away from plastics. We value feedback from members on all issues. If you, or any other member, use your plastic membership card regularly we’d be pleased to hear more. This information would be very helpful for us to determine what is best for our members, be that plastic, paper, or even a digital solution.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206344

Readers' comments (8)

  • Whilst I was surprised that the card had changed from plastic to paper format, I am supportive. Formerly, it's just been a bit of plastic that sits in a drawer for 12 months before being shredded when a new one arrives. The paper version is far better, economically and environmentally.

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  • From an environmental perspective, excluding printing and delivery carbon footprint, there was more paper involved in sending out the actual card itself. I recommend digital membership in future. I'm sure it would be a significant cost saving. Sometimes I think an enamel lapel pin, like the nursing badge, would be a good show of RPS membership , especially if you are a Fellow.

    A plastic card has many uses in life but it has never helped me show that I am an RPS member.

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  • I agree with Mr Lowe's feedback. I do carry around my membership card in my wallet and the new card does seem to very flimsy. At first glance, I'm not sure how recyclable the new card will be, as it appears to have some sort of plastic film over it, which may not make it recyclable. I like the idea of being able to have a digital membership card that I can save to my Apple Wallet on my iPhone. Could this be provided through the RPS App?

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  • I agree with the view of Peter Lowe. I was disappointed to see that my professional leadership body had taken the view that Membership/Fellowship be recognised by the issuing of a small flimsy “card”. I understand the view that it is more environmentally friendly to do so; indeed mine was recycled immediately upon receipt! More constructively, may I suggest that a digital “card” would seem a more acceptable form of recognition going forward.

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  • Jen Smith

    I was glad to see the move away from a plastic card - which sits in a drawer for a year and then gets shredded in my house too. Digital would be even better.

    I agree that the reputation of pharmacy is in dire straits, but if the material of our RPS membership card is important to improve this, can we have a smart titanium one, like the new Apple credit card?

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  • The new card looks incredibly cheap and unprofessional. I have used the old plastic-form card in the past in Europe to enable me to buy antibiotics for a severe chest infection from a fellow pharmacist, instead of having to access a doctor.

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  • Going for smart titanium card as suggested earlier in a post is a good idea. Could put it as an option before check out either titanium card or the paper one.

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  • Whilst I understand the concerns raised, I really cannot see how a plastic card was needed to validate membership anyway. This can be easily viewed online as a means of demonstrating professional registration if needed, as can the list of registrants from the GPhC. It is naive to think this move has been made from a cost-saving point-of-view and clearly you have been burying your head in the sand for the last 12 months if you don't realise this is for environmental benefit. I was be very disappointed if I receive a plastic card next year but would be much happier with a digital form going forwards. The usage of all forms of plastic should be reviewed and where not absolutely necessary must be avoided. As a household where we are trying to avoid plastic at every opportunity, receiving unwanted plastic in the post is very frustrating! I am very pleased with the move, RPS.

    Glen Cooper, cardiac pharmacist, UH Bristol

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