Why FSC? One of the big challenges we experience on our Eco-Logic Bamboo products, is that other products are often marketed as “Green” when in fact the products are not green. The industry term for this is called “greenwashing“. So how do you KNOW whether a product is REALLY green?
Where to start …
The source of the raw materials is the best place to start looking to make sure that the product is managed in a truly “green” way …
Any natural product is made from raw materials. Where do those raw materials come from, is the source renewable, or is it gone forever once mined/harvested?
For wood based products, the big external certification you need to look for is a FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) rating for the wood.
The Certification Process
The first thing to know about FSC certification, is that the FSC does not issue certificates itself. The certification process is carried out by independent organizations called certification bodies. Before being able to certify according to FSC standards, certification bodies have to gain FSC accreditation. To do this, verifiers have to comply with an extensive set of rules.
“So, what does this mean to me?” It means that any certified forest is certified by an independent 3rd party, ensuring that a certified forest is really complying to the listed requirements (corruption is minimised – you get to lose your accreditation if somebody can show that you’re doing suspect deals).
The FSC process, as it pertains to Bamboo, includes the following;
The bamboo forest owners are certified according to the “FSC forest management” certification. Having this certification tells you the following about how the raw material is harvested (listed from the FSC Web site):
- Prohibit conversion of forests or any other natural habitat
- Respect of international workers rights
- Respect of Human Rights with particular attention to indigenous people’s
- Prohibit the use of hazardous chemicals
- No corruption – follow all applicable laws
- Identification and proper management of areas that need special protection (e.g. cultural or sacred sites, habitat of endangered animals or plants)
To sell material from an FSC certified forest with the FSC logo, a forest manager must also meet FSC chain of custody certification. This is also known as the FSC CoC number. This is what the FSC publishes on this certification;
FSC chain of custody (CoC) tracks FSC certified material through the production process – from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution.
Only FSC CoC certified operations are allowed to label products with the FSC trademarks. The FSC label thus provides the link between responsible production and consumption and thereby enables the consumer to make socially and environmentally responsible purchasing decisions.
In order to be FSC certified, a company must comply to the following principles and criteria:
Compliance with all applicable laws and international treaties
Demonstrated and uncontested, clearly defined, long–term land tenure and use rights
Recognition and respect of indigenous people’s’ rights
Maintenance or enhancement of long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities and respect of worker’s rights in compliance with International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions
Equitable use and sharing of benefits derived from the forest
Reduction of environmental impact of logging activities and maintenance of the ecological functions and integrity of the forest
Appropriate and continuously updated management plan
Appropriate monitoring and assessment activities to assess the condition of the forest, management activities and their social and environmental impacts
Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) defined as environmental and social values that are considered to be of outstanding significance or critical importance
In addition to compliance with all the above, plantations must contribute to reducing the pressures on and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.