go fsc, go green!
Marketing communication is often looked upon by clients as an environmentally unfriendly affair. The sheaves and sheaves of paper used, the wastage, often leave a huge carbon footprint, something no university or marcom agency would want on their conscience. But there can hardly be an effective marketing campaign without the use of paper. This catch-22 is something most effectively resolved by using FSC certified paper.
To understand how this is possible, it is important to understand what FSC stands for and proposes to do.
What is FSC?
Established in 1993 to help sustain planet earth’s environment and promote effective and sustainable management of the world’s forests, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization. Its focus is to stop uncontrolled deforestation and maintain a balance between human activities and the exploitation of forests by those activities.
FSC’s makes it their duty to ensure that the world’s forests are not looked upon as a non-renewable source of energy. They ensure that every forest management they certify replants in equal measure the trees they allow to be felled. This is to help maintain the balance of the habitat, the flora and fauna within as well as the many native tribes that need the forest for sustenance. They make sure that their actions ensure a positive effect on the economy and environment while helping with poverty alleviation and social and political empowerment for the indigenous tribes of the forests.
FSC certification provides consumers the choice to choose forest products like paper and wood that have been obtained in an environmentally-friendly, socially accountable and economically feasible manner.
The last decade has seen over 90 million hectares being certified according to FSC standards in upwards of 70 countries. Thousands of products around the world use the FSC standard and trademark. It is recognized as a symbol between governments, private industry and discerning consumers about the environmentally friendly nature of the product.
This certification shows the commitment of the company and its people towards preserving the world’s forests.
Difference between FSC and recycled paper
A common misconception is to confuse FSC paper with recycled paper. There is a basic difference in the production of both the types of paper, although both are equally beneficial to the environment, but differ in standards of quality.
A forest receives an FSC certification when all the criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council are maintained by the management of the forest. On receiving an FSC certification, the paper prepared from the wood taken from this forest also receives an FSC certification. FSC papers are a result of a well-managed forest.
The FSC demands a management plan. It must include information such as description of the measure and amount of logging and renewal operations in the forest, as well as long-term goals and monitoring of the ecology of the area, to ensure that what is cut down is being resown.
Recycled paper on the other hand is generated from either 100% waste paper or a combination of post-consumer and pre-consumer paper waste. There are ranges for recycled paper from 10% post-consumer waste paper to 100% post-consumer waste paper. There is a marked difference between FSC certified paper and recycled paper, primarily of price and quality.
Why prefer FSC Certified Paper?
FSC certified paper, unlike recycled paper,is typically composed of virgin tree fibers,not of pre- or post-consumer recycled materials (although recycled paper can also be FSC certified paper at times). The paper can be eco-friendly when the wood pulp used to manufacture it is used from a well-managed forest.
Environmental benefits – The FSC was established to manage the forests as a sustainable source of paper. To ensure that the forest, its ecology and the natives do not suffer to due to indiscriminate deforestation, requires companies and individuals around the world to join hands, and FSC becomes a medium for this.
- It acts to preserve biological diversity and its values: water resources, soils, unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes
- It works to conserve the fragile ecological functions and integrity of the forest
- It protects the habitats of endangered species
Economic benefits – A certification from the FSC contributes greatly towards increasing your profitability. Research has adequately shown that an FSC certification makes for good business. Some of the benefits are:
- Improved market access
- Higher prices
- More stable contracts
- Favorable credit arrangements
- Improved production efficiency
- Enhanced public image
Often FSC certified products have the same prices as products manufactured from forests which aren’t sustainably managed.Using FSC certified paper may at times prove to be an expensive affair but brings with it a credibility unlike any other in the international market.
FSC certification labels
FSC certified papers are divided in categories based on the amount of particular product lines they contain. Understanding of these categories is important as they differ according to market segments. The bifurcation depends primarily on wood and wood fiber.
- FSC 100%- This label is the simplest to recognize. All the products are manufactured from an FSC certified forest. This kind does not contain any recycled or non-FSC fiber of any kind.
- FSC Recycled – This label is also quite clear to understand. An FSC Recycled product is a combination of a minimum of 85% of the wood fiber content from post-consumer sources and a maximum of 15% coming from post-industrial sources.
- FSC Mixed –As the name suggests, mixed source products are a combination of FSC 100%, Recycled and/or Controlled fiber.
Like many other green catchphrases, a sustainable ecology too can be vague. An FSC-certified label by the Forest Stewardship Council offers strict standards that products must meet before they are declared truly environmentally and socially responsible.
These products go through a chain of possession, from the forest to the manufacturer to the merchant and finally to the printer. They also ask for a management plan that outlines the scale and intensity of logging and renewal operations to maintain the health of the forest.
The battle to save the planet’s forest is not of any one country or people, it is a battle of everyone who calls this planet home. Corporates, companies and universities in the business of marcom can make a difference by using only FSC certified products, the benefits far outstrip the costs.