Sustainability — Paper Options Not Clear Cut
The challenge here is understanding the somewhat competing efforts to implement and promote standards for sustainable forest management. For printers in the United States, the key players are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) now under the direction of the Sustainable Forestry Board (SFB). Broadening the focus to North America would bring the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) into play.
All of the programs are similar at the forest level, as attested to by the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) council. This global umbrella organization provides a framework for the development and mutual recognition of national forest certification schemes based on a set of minimum requirements.
One point of difference is the acreage of forest certified by each group as managed in a responsible and sustainable manner, with SFI claiming the lead. Depending on one’s perspective, the critical difference may be the makeup of the stakeholders driving each program. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) took the lead in the SFI and has made participation a requirement of membership in the association. Environmental stakeholders have had a prominent role in the SFC.
Under each program, chain-of-custody certification is the mechanism by which sellers and users of materials derived from sustainably managed forests can verify they have the ability to track their supplies back to certified sources. The process includes passing an independent audit of an applicant’s inventory management and tracking systems.
FSC (www.fscus.org) was covered at length in the May 2005 edition of Printing Impressions—”Here Today, Here Tomorrow,” on page 60. The organization, which is based in Washington, DC, works through independent certification agencies that it accredits. Smartwood, the FSC accredited program of the Rainforce Alliance, counts more than 25 printers in North America among the companies it has judged to merit chain-of-custody certification.