Tag Archive for 'responsible forestry'

FSC Clarifies Its Labels

You see the FSC logo on websites and etched into many of our awards. Recently, the Forest Stewardship Council© released its new trademark standard FSC-STD-50-001, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to remind you what it means to be “certified” as a “Chain of Custody” supplier and what the FSC logo communicates about our products, especially now that the FSC labelling requirements are changing.

What is FSC?

The Forest Stewardship Council is just one of a number of forest certification programs across the globe, but is arguably the most well-known; you’ve probably seen the logo on your cereal box.

We choose to be certified by FSC because we strongly support their principles.  FSC requires forest managers “to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations.”  Operational in over 100 countries, FSC is the leading supplier of forestry chain-of-custody certifications. (See our Responsible Forestry page for more details.)

What is Chain of Custody?

We don’t (yet) keep a forest in our back garden from which to source our own wood, so we are not primary sources of the responsibly harvested wood we use. We are one or more steps removed from the harvest, but no less important players in the lifecycle of the wood.

As long as we use FSC-certified wood and related products, we will remain custodians of those products at this particular step along their lifecycle. As official custodians, our processes and business principles are highly scrutinized by one of FSC’s 12 independent, accredited certifying institutions across the globe.  Our certifier is Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. (SCS) of Emeryville, California.

Every year, an auditor from SCS visits our facility, reviews our written procedures, and inspects our accounting, shipping, receiving, manufacturing, and product labelling processes to ensure that we fully comply with each element of the FSC standard for which we seek certification. The current Chain-of-Custody certification standard is FSC-STD-40-004 v2-0 and our license number is FSC-C019049.

The auditor’s report is thorough. This year’s report ran to 32 pages. In order to achieve and maintain FSC Chain of Custody certification, we must resolve any non-compliances by their stated deadlines. Historically, we have had very few non-compliances, and those few we have had have all been resolved well before deadline. Additionally, before we introduce new products or promotional materials, we must seek and receive prior approval from our auditor to ensure that we meet the applicable standard.

What the Label Says

As FSC has grown, so have the scope and variety of products it certifies.  Since “on product” labelling is a crucial component in differentiating wood products, FSC recently revised its “on product” look to provide consumers with more precise information upon which to make responsible purchasing decisions.

The new FSC “label” – because it’s more than just a logo – informs you that your product is certified by one of the leading authorities in forest management in the world.  It also provides information about the specific certified materials used and the percentage of the product that is certified.

What’s Changed

The “checkmark and tree” symbol hasn’t changed but the wording around it has. The most important aspects to take account of, as a consumer, are the “PURE,” “MIX,” and “RECYCLED” elements.

The PURE label indicates that the product you take home is made entirely of wood from an FSC-certified forest, and the label will probably also contain the wording “From well-managed forests” just to be clear.

The MIX label indicates the product could be made up from a variety of sources; the label may contain a Mobius loop to indicate what percentage is recycled, while the remainder is from virgin wood of well-managed origins. This label will likely also include the words, “From responsible sources.”

The RECYCLED label indicates that the product includes either post-industrial or post-consumer recycled materials. This may also contain a Mobius loop to show how much of the product is FSC-certified as recycled and will probably contain the wording “Made from recycled material” underneath.

What Rivanna Uses

For wood products, our policy is to use FSC PURE wood whenever possible.  Sometimes we use wood from mixed sources (MIX) when PURE is not available, such as for maple and cherry, as these hardwoods are in high demand for green building projects. The only imported wood species we routinely use is Honduran Mahogany and, for the past decade, we have always been able to source FSC PURE mahogany from a local certified supplier.

For certified recycled products, we use FSC RECYCLED or FSC MIX substrates, such as Richlite™ or PaperStone™. Our policy is always to use the material with the highest possible post-consumer recycled content (preferably 100%).

At every step of the process, from ordering the wood to receiving, sorting, machining, finishing, packaging, and labelling, you can rest assured that we, and our FSC auditor, make every effort to meet or exceed the requirements of our Chain-of-Custody standard.  Our FSC certification and, ultimately, our integrity as a business, demand nothing less.

Forest Stewardship Council celebrates first international FSC Friday

FSC Friday 2009Here at Rivanna, our partnership with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is one of our most important relationships. All of our wood plaques and awards are crafted from FSC-certified wood, and we also offer FSC recycled products, such as our PaperStone™ awards. Why did we choose FSC certification? Well, in addition to their strict environmental standards, FSC also has guidelines protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, workers’ rights, and the social and economic well-being of local communities. You can read more about our FSC partnership in the responsible forestry section of our site.

In an effort to promote these responsible forestry standards worldwide, FSC celebrated its 1st International FSC Friday on September 25, 2009. FSC Friday began in the UK in 2008 and was broadened this year to reach internationally. Events were planned at FSC International Center in Bonn, Germany, as well as in Russia, India, and all over the UK and featured FSC product showcases, expert talks, and forest walks.

In Bonn, FSC held an “Open Door Day” and offered meet-and-greets with FSC staff, talks about the impacts of FSC and various FSC initiatives, and a walk through a certified city forest.  The World Wildlife Federation in India celebrated FSC Friday with their launch of an FSC-certified awareness poster conveying the need to protect our forests. FSC Chain-of-Custody certification is taking off in India – more and more companies are applying for certification. In Russia, FSC also held an “Open Door Day”, and opened an online forum for communication about forest certification standards.  The celebration of forests was biggest in the UK, where parks, forests, and community organizations hosted events all over the country spreading awareness for the necessity of forest certification programs. From bike rides and hikes through forests to talks at local schools, as well as discounted FSC-certified products at many retailers, FSC UK offered something for forest revelers of all types.

We at Rivanna are big supporters of FSC and encourage you to learn more about the economic, social, and environmental benefits of FSC certification. Why no FSC Friday in North America, you ask? We’re not sure. In Charlottesville, where we are headquartered, Fridays are BIG. The city has First Fridays, when the local galleries throw their doors open to the public and offer hors d’oeuvres and cocktails to the art enthusiasts, as well as Fridays After 5 (free music at the Pavilion, the outdoor music venue). At Rivanna, we like Fridays, We’d love to participate in an FSC Friday. Wouldn’t you? We’ll check it out and let you know what we learn.