Environmentally Friendly Packaging | Chain of Custody : FSC and PEFC

FSC Chain of Custody

FSC is an abbreviation for the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC is dedicated to promoting economically viable, socially beneficial and environmentally appropriate management of forests around the world. They are a non-governmental, international organisation. The need for trustworthy timber product labelling and concerns about deforestation caused FSC to be founded in 1993. Rainforest Alliance, the Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the WWF and many important players in business and industry are known to be supporters of the FSC.

Chain of Custody is an information trail concerning the path by which products are taken from the forest to the consumer. In the case of materials that are recycled, the path is followed from the reclamation site to the consumer. This includes every stage of distribution, manufacturing, transformation and processing where there is a change of ownership involved in the supply chain.

The FSC trademark or logo is desired by a large number of companies to show that the timber products that they produce come from forests that are managed responsibly and don’t contribute to deforestation. Every company must obtain a chain of custody certificate that is valid in order for them to use the FSC trademark in reference to their timber products.

There are four ways in which FSC trademark use and FSC certification are different to many other labels:

1. The product is able to be traced back to the original responsibly managed forest through the supply chain.

2. Assurances are provided that correct use of the FSC trademark is being done by FSC certified companies through independent verification by certfication bodies. It also ensures that products that are labeled as being certified by that FSC are actually certified by them.

3. FSC products are only allowed to be sold by FSC certified companies. Also, only certified companies may use the FSC logo to claim that a product is FSC certified and/or use the logo promotionally. Retailers selling directly to the public are the only exception to this rule.

4. FSC logos or on-product labeling only relate to the physical product. They do not relate to the environmental performance of the product.

The FSC logo is considered a ‘truth’ label. This means that it will not be used to promote any claims that are unable to be supported. An example of this is when a company will claim that they plant two trees to replace every tree that they cut down in order to ensure sustainability. The forests that are certified by the FSC must conform to strict criteria, principles and practices that are used to protect the habitats, animals, indigenous peoples living in the forest and forestry workers.

PEFC Chain of Custody

PEFC is an abbreviation for Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. PEFC is a non-profit, international non-governmental organisation with a focus on promoting sustainable forest management by independent third-party certification. The chain operates in basically the same way as the FSC. All parties need to PEFC certified to be able to sell goods that have the PEFC logo on them. Brokers or agents that do not take physical ownership of the products are not required to be PEFC certified.

One of the main ways that PEFC certification is different from FSC certification is that PEFC is an umbrella organisation. They endorse national forest systems that are credible. A good example of this is the Forestry Commission. This is the department of the government that is responsible for the protection of the forests in Great Britain. The government’s forestry system is endorsed and recognised by the PEFC. The Forestry Commission achieved PEFC certification in 2010. Therefore, they could sell timber from their forests as PEFC certified, if they had the desire to do it.

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