When shopping for paper, you may notice an 'FSC-Certified' stamp on the packaging of certain brands. But what is FSC certified paper, and what are the benefits of choosing it over conventional paper — especially when the latter may be less expensive?
'FSC' stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that works to promote the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. The Forest Stewardship Council sets standards for forest products, independently certifies that these standards have been met, and bestows labels upon the products that qualify. Forest Stewardship Council certification gives customers the option to choose forest products like paper and wood that have been sourced in an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible and economically viable manner. FSC was founded in 1993 in response to concerns about deforestation.
What makes paper 'sustainable'? Like many other green buzzwords including 'organic' and 'natural,' the word 'sustainable' can be vague. With its 'FSC-Certified' label, the Forest Stewardship Council defines a strict set of standards that paper products must meet in order to prove that they are truly environmentally and socially responsible.
The FSC requires products that bear an FSC-certified label to go through a “chain of custody” from the forest to the manufacturer to the merchant and finally, to the printer, when applicable. Independent, third-party auditors conduct chain-of-custody assessments of companies that would like to achieve FSC certification. The FSC also requires a 'management plan', which outlines the scale and intensity of logging and renewal operations in addition to long-term objectives for maintaining the health of the forest.