FSC™ Speaks on Promoting Responsible Forest Management

Photo of FSC Australia CEO Sara Gipton

With so many packaging products made from paper, it’s important to ensure our forests are not irreparably damaged in the creation of paper-based packaging. The Forest Stewardship Council (License code FSC™ C110879) is an international non-profit that acts to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. We’ve chatted with FSC Australia CEO Sara Gipton to hear a little more about the benefits of certification when it comes to sustainable packaging.

BioPak has partnered with FSC to ensure any paper-based packaging we create is produced in a sustainable manner, with minimal environmental impact (like our new FSC paper straws). We’ve chatted with FSC Australia CEO Sara Gipton to hear a little more about the benefits of certification when it comes to sustainable packaging.

Sara, can you give us a brief overview of the forestry management certification, and what this means for sustainable timber and paper production?

FSC forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves the natural ecosystem and benefits the lives of local people and workers, all while ensuring it remains economically viable.

To secure this certification, FSC members have agreed upon a set of criteria that forest managers or owners have to meet.

How does FSC ensure the responsible management of forests?

FSC set standards then provide supply chain assurance forest to the product. These standards are checked against by independent auditors.

When timber leaves an FSC-certified forest we also ensure companies that handle the timber along the supply chain meet our best practice standards, so that when a product bears the FSC logo, you can be sure it’s been made from responsible sources.

We love that the FSC was founded by – and are still operated by – environmentalists, social interest groups, indigenous peoples' organisations, responsible retailers and lead forest management companies. Can you tell us how your organisational structure helps to keep sustainability-focused practices at the forefront of FSC business practices?

FSC has very unique governance that guides the organisations to make sure environmental, social and economic interests in the global south and north are balanced. We are a democratic and consensus-seeking organisation, so when it comes to creating change our structure ensures all voices are heard.

There are 10 principles and criteria behind FSC certification, which are not just the backbone of the business but also part of the #ForestsForAllForever campaign. Can you give us a brief overview of the principles and the purpose of the campaign?

Forest management certification involves an inspection of the forest management unit by an independent FSC-accredited certification body to check that the forest complies with the internationally-agreed FSC 10 Principles of Responsible Forest Management. If the forest complies with FSC standards, then the FSC accredited certification body issues a certificate for the operation.

Includes compliance with laws; workers rights and employment conditions; indigenous peoples rights; community relations; benefits from the forest; environmental values and impacts; management planning; monitoring and assessment; high conservation values; implementation of management activities.

What’s the environmental impact of choosing packaging that does not come from FSC managed forests?

Many suppliers will promote that their products are environmental, but without a credible standard, there is no assurance. The FSC model of change encourages to move from self-declaration to third-party verification for credibility and transparency. Independent eco-labels, that have been accredited by ISEAL Alliance, meet the highest standards and combat greenwash.

When consumers see the FSC logo on a product, what does this mean?

Put simply, consumers get Forests For All Forever™when they choose a product labelled FSC.

When consumers choose a product that is FSC-certified – paper straws instead of plastic ones for example – what are the environmental benefits (aside from the obvious in this case: less single-use plastic consumption)?

The United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development two years ago in 2015. FSC plays a role in contributing to some of these goals including Life on Land, Clean Water and Sanitation, and Action on Climate. So, when more consumers are choosing FSC-certified products, the benefit isn’t limited simply to that product purchase, it extends into policy and advocacy on a greater scale.

While consumption of single-use packaging continues unabated, consumer awareness of climate change and eco-friendly materials is rising. It seems the tide is turning when it comes to sustainable packaging. What more can be done to educate consumers, and change legislation?

FSC look to work with partners to do more public education campaigns that focus on consumer behaviour changes and the benefits of certification schemes. Also, the more businesses that get certified, the more market alternatives there are for consumers. The FSC label helps consumers make good choices.

As consumer interest in sustainability continues to increase, FSC-certified wood and paper make sense economically, socially and environmentally. What advice do you have for businesses considering FSC-certified paper packaging?

Choosing FSC is good business. Not only goes it ensure your supply chains mitigate risk but it is a credible tool to communicate with your clients, customers, and stakeholders about your corporate sustainability.

FSC Logo with Forest For All statementFSC Logo with Forest For All statement