FSC logo on packaging

FSC stands for ‘Forest Stewardship Council’. The ‘tick tree logo’ has become a familiar reassurance to users and consumers of paper and wood products worldwide. Use of the logo is strictly regulated to avoid misleading messages. This means when you see it on a product you can be sure that the world’s forests have not been harmed. Non-timber forest products such as latex, bamboo, etc, can also be certified. Currently 220 million hectares of forest are certified. That’s an increase of almost 45% since 2012. And there are over 44,000 Chain of Custody certificates, nearly double the 2012 number. All of this means great news for the environment as well as showing the growth of such a worthwhile initiative.

How does it work?

FSC Chain of Custody

FSC Chain of Custody

FSC publish 10 Rules for Responsible Forest Management as its core principles. These include ensuring compliance with applicable laws, avoiding or mitigating negative environmental impacts, and maintaining conservation values. Forests are inspected and certified against the stringent principles of Forest Stewardship. They are measured against a range of environmental, social and economical considerations. In addition the FSC system includes a certified chain of custody that tracks materials through the supply chain to the labelling of the finished product. One of the key aspects of FSC is its commitment to local consultation. This ensures the livelihoods and social welfare of local people is adequately protected and enhanced.

FSC labelling explained

There are 3 types of FSC label. These are traceable back to the holder of the certification which means they can be proved to be genuine. You will see the following variations:

FSC Labelling explained

Understand more about the FSC labelling criteria here

Consumers are increasingly environmentally aware and will be looking out for suppliers who can demonstrate that they are actively moving towards products and packaging which show the FSC label. Some even potentially boycotting (even if only passively) those that do not. It’s important for brands to realise the positive impact of these types of accreditations will have on their customers.

Is FSC the only certification?

There are other forest certification schemes, but FSC is regarded as having the strictest standards and the most rigorous chain of custody. This is why it is the only scheme endorsed by the major environmental charities. Probably the second most widely recognised is PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). There are also other less well-known schemes, for example CSA, SFI, MTSC. All of these are currently recognised in the UK as adequate assurance that the product is sustainably and legally sourced.

Do consumers recognise FSC?

A 2020 independent report by the organisation Two Sides, found that 64% of European (73% in UK) consumers are aware of FSC. Interestingly, consumers in the UK gave this label a rating of 3.4 out of 5 for importance. This really highlights that UK consumers are looking more closely at how brands they buy from.

Do FSC products cost more?

Cost does depend upon a number of factors, such as what demand there is and what the exact specification is. As a general rule, there is usually very little difference (if any) in price. That’s great news to be able to do produce a product that’s environmentally sound as well as appealing to consumers.

What are Acopia doing about FSC?

We recognise and endorse the environmental and ethical concerns of our stakeholders. A number of our paper and card products are already from suppliers with FSC and other accreditations.  For new products we give priority to accredited sources. Where it is available as a choice we will always specify a certified product. Where a current supplier does not offer FSC or other accreditation, we actively seek to replace these sources and introduce accredited suppliers into our supply chain.

Other things we do include sourcing in the UK (or as near to home as possible) and promoting recyclable and compostable options.  By using our buying power, we’re able to make environmentally friendly options available to as many as possible. If you’re thinking of looking at this more closely for your own supply chain, please drop us a note and we can get the ball rolling for you.

If you have found this helpful, you might like to look at our other blogs, with information on packaging considerations: Paper vs Plastic and What is Ecommerce

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