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FSC-certified

Contains paper pulp that came from responsibly-managed forests.

Definition


FSC certification is a stamp of approval designating that wood pulp in paper came from responsibly-managed forests, accounting for both environment and community health. The FSC label ensures1 tree plantations comply with local laws, manage the land with a long-term perspective, and respect the rights of indigenous peoples.

There are three tiers2 within the FSC label:

  • FSC 100% indicates that all of the pulp in the paper came from FSC certified forests.
  • FSC Mix indicates that the pulp is a mix of FSC certified forests, recycled pulp, and controlled wood, or wood from ethical sources that does not meet the full FSC certification.
  • FSC Recycled indicates that the material comes from reclaimed material.
FSC
Materials

Through sustainably managed sources and reuse, some materials have a lower environmental impact.

Why choose it


The FSC serves an important role as a globally recognized environmental partner to the paper industry. In the nebulous, confusing world of environmental audits, a globally recognized watchdog with clear standards and high industry acceptance is a welcome player.

Companies may seek out FSC certified papers if the goals and practices of the FSC organization are a high priority.

Top 10 Countries by Area Under FSC-Certification (Millions of Hectares)
Source: FSC (2019)

Why not choose it


Not all responsibly-managed forests are FSC-certified. When optimizing for local fabrication to reduce freight emissions, FSC-certified paper may not always be available. To reduce the net carbon footprint, it may be preferable to use locally-sourced recycled paper.

There has been some controversy surrounding instances of fraud or suppliers using the FSC logo without actually following FSC principles. This speaks to the difficulty of policing and enforcing these standards on a global scale. The FSC mark may not be a top priority for companies if other certifications or properties are more important.

Frequently asked questions
Is it better to use recycled paper or FSC certified paper?

It’s complicated. It depends on what type of electricity was used to recycle the paper and unique geographic concerns over deforestation and land use. This information is difficult to find at the mill level.

Are there any other standards for paper?

PEFC or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification6 is an alternate, highly reputable standard that is more catered to European and North American Forests.