FSC Certification Made Easy. Could It Be Worth The Trip?

Recently we facilitated a marketing workshop and the question came up, "What is FSC Certification?" Below you'll find the basics and links to some good additional resources.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the international body responsible for standardizing practices to maintain and ensure responsible forestry. Being FSC certified means a business or organization adheres to the practices and principles put forth by the council. There are three forms of certification two of which are related directly to forestation; planting, growing, harvesting and selling and one for companies and organizations involved in using or selling paper products but do not grow or harvest trees. This last certification, the Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certification, is the one most relevant to the print industry and focus of this article.

What: A standards and management program for companies and organizations that purchase and sell forest products to track that the materials handled are from responsible sources. Once certification is attained it lasts for five years and allows the company to promote their goods as FSC certified.

Who: CoC is intended for companies and groups involved on the forest products supply chain. Examples: Sawmills, secondary manufacturers, brokers/distributors, wholesalers, retailers, printers, paper distributors, etc.

Where: The FSC itself does not distribute the certificates. Instead they have authorized third party organizations to manage the assessments and enforcement of the CoC certificates. Organizations with offices in the US currently are:

How: To attain CoC certification there is a 10 step "assessment" process:

  1. Fill out the application
  2. Distributing Organization determines budget
  3. Determine which certificate and scope are appropriate
  4. Sign service agreement with distributing organization
  5. Time is given to to modify systems and operations to meet FSC Standards for CoC certification
  6. Operations are examined by a program auditor to ensure they comply with FSC requirements
  7. Summary of the audit is provided to the company/organization for review and approval
  8. Distributing organization determines if certification is to be granted
  9. A certification agreement is signed and all ancillary codes and paperwork are provided
  10. Distributing organization will conduct annual audits to assure operation within FSC standards and principles

An excellent 2 part article by Gail Nickel-Kailing going into how to become certified and the process details and costs can be found in the archives:

Additional Resources include:

Keep the learning going...pass it on!

~Peter and Emma