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Certified wood

Inaccuracies in communication sometimes called ‘greenwashing’ is a significant problem when discussing certified wood, paper pulp and the governing bodies around these industries.

Made from paper pulp that’s sourced from responsibly managed forests and mills

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Made from paper pulp that’s sourced from responsibly managed forests and mills

Certified Wood definition

There are many different types of certification for wood products [1] . These certifications vary depending on where the wood is grown and where it’s processed, and whether the trees are used for paper pulp or wood products. Certifications are also indicative of whether or not the forests are managed in a sustainable way, with both the environment, native cultures and the local community in mind.

The most common certification is from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) [2] . Packhelp supports and recommends using FSC-certified materials where possible.

The FSC label comes with three levels of certification:

FSC 100% - This level indicates that all of the pulp used in this material came from FSC certified forests.

FSC Mix - This tier indicates that the pulp is a mixture of two or more type of pulp, limited to FSC certified forests, recycled pulp, controlled wood, or wood from ethical sources that don’t meet the complete FSC certification.

FSC Recycled - This level indicates that the material is made from reclaimed material and not virgin pulp.

Note: FSC Mix-grade pulp may contain a mixture of FSC virgin pulp, and FSC virgin pulp that’s an offcut that’s been recycled and not yet been turned into a final product.

Other notable bodies and certifications include the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI).

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Why you should use certified wood

The FSC certification is the most widely-known wood certification for a reason. The certification takes the confusing timber and pulp industry and gives it a simple, easy to digest stamp that simplifies an often overwhelming industry.

FSC regularly carries out market checks [3] to ensure that all FSC certified products for sale actually do come from a certified business. The FSC certification also ensures that the employees are employed legally [4] , have safe working conditions and reimbursement according to the International Labour Law (ILO).

In summary, a company may prefer FSC certified products if it values a circular economy, forest regeneration and ethical employment.

Why you shouldn’t use certified wood

There are many responsibly-managed forests that do not carry certifications. Some of these forests and their managing bodies cannot afford the certification process or simply don’t want the certification. Certification may lead to an increase in demand for their product and they can only produce so much product in a given time frame.

This, however, doesn’t mean that the use of this wood is unethical or derogatory to the environment.

In recent years, both FSC and PEFC certifications have come under scrutiny [5] for a number of reasons:

  • Auditors being bribed to supply certification
  • Companies not facing repercussions for breaking certification constraints
  • The certifications having little to no overall impact on the habitat reduction of endangered species and illegal foresting.

 

While FSC certifies forests all over the world, lots of fossil fuels are used to cut, process and deliver FSC certified products. As a result, a brand may have a smaller carbon footprint if it decides to use locally sourced and/or recycled materials rather than an FSC certified product.

This is a fine example of where two environmentally relevant properties come into conflict with each other. Certified virgin materials often create a larger carbon deficit than locally sourced, recycled, yet uncertified products.

These points go to show the complexity of the certifications of the logging and paper pulp industry.

Packhelp and certified wood

We believe that using certified cardboard products made from certified wood is important. There’s no arguing that the certification councils do have their flaws and failings.

However, certifications breed awareness and acknowledgement of an underlying problem about the consumption of natural resources. This starts a conversation and fosters more awareness, and is above all, we believe, a step in the right direction.

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