It has been 12 years, since all relevant companies in the WEIG Group have first obtained the FSC® certification (FSC licence code FSC® C031343) and we have since been committed to sustainable forest management and high environmental and social standards. Nowadays, one third of our products are sold with an FSC® label – and the trend is on the rise. This is because the issue of sustainability is becoming increasingly important for both consumers and our customers.
What is the FSC®?
More than half of all Germans know the FSC® label and trust its high credibility. But who is behind it? The “Forest Stewardship Council®” is an organisation for safeguarding important environmental and social standards and a credible solution for sustainable forest management. The FSC® ensures that the forests it certifies are used in accordance with the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
What does the FSC® certify?
The FSC® follows two certification models: Forest management and chain of custody certificates. The auditing is carried out by independent third parties in each case. The forest management certificates are aimed at forest owners who align their management methods with the FSC® standards, i.e. the forests are managed according to ecological and social criteria. This includes, for example, that game populations are adapted, timber harvesting is carried out in a careful and sustainable manner and regular inspections take place.
The chain of custody certificates are aimed at manufacturers and distributers of FSC®-certified wood and paper products. For a final product to carry an FSC® label, all companies along the entire product chain must be certified and meet the FSC® requirements. These exclude, for example, the use of so-called conflict timber and requires compliance with workers’ rights.
(based on: CoC in 60 Sekunden. Die FSC®-Produktkettenzertifizierung. FSC® Deutschland – Verein für verantwortungsvolle Waldwirtschaft e.V.)
As a producer of FSC®-certified cartonboard products, the companies of the WEIG Group comply with the product chain standard FSC-STD-40-004, have the group certification FSC-STD-40-003 and meet the requirements for the use of recycled material according to FSC-STD-40-007. Last but not least, as part of the certification process, we also comply with the standard FSC-STD-50-001, which regulates the use of FSC® trademarks.
The three FSC® labels and their meaning
The FSC® offers different labels to meet both the consumer demand for more sustainable products and the needs for raw material of manufacturers. A single label would not do justice to the complexity of the supply chains.
How the quantities of FSC® products are monitored
WEIG offers its products folding box cartonboard and plasterboard with the two labels “FSC Recycled Credit” and “FSC Mix Credit“, because we work according to the credit system: We bring a certain amount of FSC® certified raw materials into the production process. This is fixed on a credit account. Then we sell the corresponding amount of cartonboard with an FSC® certification that is either equal to or lower than the label of the input materials. This is because if materials with different FSC® statements are mixed in the process, the “lowest” label always applies. In our case, this is “FSC Mix”, as we combine recovered paper and a small proportion of FSC®-certified pulp fibres. Beyond the credit system, there is also the transfer and the percentage system, which fulfil other requirements.
It is always the responsibility of the respective company to ensure the accuracy of the FSC® claims of purchased materials. This means that our purchasing department uses the official FSC® database to check twice a year whether our suppliers and the products we purchase have an FSC® certificate.
How do you become FSC®-certified?
The certification process begins with an audit by an accredited certifier; we work with GFA Certification GmbH. The certifier checks various aspects such as documentation, separate storage of FSC® materials, the production process, documentation in purchasing as well as in sales. They ensure that products are correctly declared and check that the respective company does not sell more FSC® products than it purchases corresponding FSC® materials. If this inspection is concluded positively, the company receives an FSC® certificate with a term of five years. After that, a re-certification audit is necessary.
In addition, shorter annual monitoring audits are carried out on a regular basis. In order to pass these successfully, annual training of employees, internal process audits and continuous adaptation to changed requirements are necessary. Last year, for example, the FSC® renewed the standard for product chain certification and included requirements for compliance with social standards. The aim is to ensure that FSC® products are free of child and forced labour and are produced under fair working conditions.
Transparent sustainability for manufacturers and consumers
The topic of sustainability has long since ceased to be a niche trend. Especially for manufacturers in B2C markets (such as FMCG), it has become an absolute must-have to set themselves apart from competitors. An FSC® product label can be one way to communicate product sustainability in a credible and eye-catching way.
Would you like to learn more about how you can better position yourself in your market with WEIG’s FSC® certified products? Then make an appointment with one of our experts today!
Select an appointment in the calendar and chat with one of our experts directly via video.