Thursday, April 9, 2009

What is FSC Certification? 1 of Many

I don't know about you but lately clients have been asking for us to use FSC papers and printers and I am not quite sure they really even know what this process is about, it's just something their competitors are using and then of course they want to use it too. My first run in with this was a few years ago when I attended a paper seminar and they had a speaker directly from the FSC who explained why and what they are all about. To start off FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council and they promote responsible management of forests all around the world. After this seminar I immediately started seeing this logo everywhere, for instance check out your mailbox I am sure there is something in there that is FSC certified and the number of companies keep on growing. The first company that I noticed who was FSC certified was Aveda, they have always been very good about their environmental efforts and using natural ingredients, they even have the eyeliner wood FSC certified. Almost every catalogue I get has the certification but there is one that doesn't which blows my mind and that is LL Bean, I will not give them my business, hell no they are all about the outdoors and camping and canoeing and dressing for hiking and they are too cheap to get there catalog printed on FSC certified papers with certified printers, come on.

The FSC was started in 1993 in response to the over deforestation going on around the world. They recognized that people will continue to need resources from trees for generations to come and they wanted to engage the market to recognize the value of the forests. Forests provide us with a lot of things such as fresh air, clean water, shelter for animals, food, medicine and many other things that we need to survive. Many protected forests have been harvested illegally and the FSC wanted to stop this from happening but also kept in mind that we do need to use these trees but that we can cut them down and use them responsibly.

In order to accomplish this they have developed "The Chain of Custody Certification Process" which insures trees cut from FSC managed forests will go through an all FSC certified process. For example a postcard that you received has gone through 5 different FSC certified processes since it was cut down. The chain goes something like this Pulp Manufacturer -> Paper Manufacturer -> Paper Merchant -> Printer and finally gets approved by the FSC. This process ensures that all environmental and social obligations have been followed.

For a company to start the certification process they need to contact an accredited certifier, submit an application, complete an on-site assessment, receive the certification approval and undergo annual audits. Throughout this process there needs to be someone who is the go to person who is aware of all the policy and procedures, they need to train their staff in these procedures and need to keep records on hand for several years. The company needs to come up with the best way to segregate FSC certified products separate from non-FSC certified products, they need to keep them identified, and document sales, purchases, and delivery documents must be kept.

For printers they need to make sure that they are using the proper inks and disposing of them correctly. This has actually moved printers into using soy inks and other solvents that have almost no chemicals and are safe enough to put down the drain. So not only are they helping the forest but all those pressman out there who have to deal with the hazardous materials.

There is a lot more information that I haven't covered here but intend on continuing to inform you about the FSC.

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