While the financial crisis continued to shake the world, environmental awareness kept growing worldwide this year, spurred on by the debate about the world's most pressing problem - imminent climate change.
This was reflected in the continued extreme growth of the FSC system, which was certainly also noticeable for FSC service providers like NEPCon and our FSC-accredited partner the Rainforest Alliance. We have collected a bouquet of some of the most significant landmarks achieved during 2009.
Market growth and recognition
Several surveys published this year showed that consumer recognition and demand for FSC certified products keeps growing. New laws and policies to crack down on illegal logging - in particular the US Lacey Act - have also had major impact and resulted in increased demands for certified products.
In November, FSC celebrated its 1,000th forest management certificate as well as its 15,000th chain of custody certification, marking the tremendous growth of the system. "The trend has been very noticeable for us", says Peter Feilberg, CEO of NEPCon. "our FSC client portfolio has grown very fast this year".
Other surveys showed that the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal is also increasingly recognized on the global marketplace. In the UK market, consumer recognition of the seal is now on the same level as the UK Assured Foods Standard. Not surprisingly, NEPCon’s FSC-clients are increasingly interested in using the seal together with the FSC logo.
FSC part and parcel of a greener paper market
Barack Obama set the stage already in the beginning of the year by sending out a million FSC-labeled invitations for his inauguration as president of the United States. This was soon followed by significant moves by the paper and packaging industries towards supplying responsibly produced paper products to the marketplace.
A string of milestones were set including some significant achievements by clients of NEPCon:
- The simultaneous launch of three FSC-labeled national daily newspapers in Denmark was made possible based on Chain of custody certification of the Procurement Association of the Danish Press;
- Swedish Tetra Pak announced the launch of 1.5 billion FSC-certified packages containing well-known milk, juice and liquid food brands in the UK and Ireland; the launch was folllowed up by a strong marketing campaign;
- Another major global supplier of packages for beverages, German SIG Combibloc, got FSC-certified. Together with supermarket discount chain Lidl, SIG introduced FSC-labeled fruit juice and ice tea cartons in all of Lidl's German stores.Since then, SIG has become a member of the WWF Global Forest and Trade Network.
Other key progress in the paper sector included the launch of an FSC-labeled newspaper in the Netherlands and Kimberly-Clark's launch of FSC-labeled tissue brands such as Kleenex in the US.
The trend is partly based on the companies' own progress towards corporate responsibiity, and partly on increasing demands for responsible products. In several cases, critical NGO campaigns have turned into fruitful collaboration between the companies and NGOs such as Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network.
A number of influential companies thus announced new or improved paper procurement policies in 2009. These included e.g. the Gucci Group, Kimberly-Clark and the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail. Staples (the world's biggest supplier of office articles) teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance to strengthen its procurement policy and practice.
Meanwhile, the Domtar Corporation in the US sold its millionth ton of FSC-paper, and luxury paper producer PAK 2000 announced its plans to release a “leadership” paper policy in 2010.
Ground prepared for certification of small family forests
Three projects running this year sought new ways of overcoming the challenges of including small operations in the FSC scheme. A pilot test conducted in Estonia ; several other projects developing and testing similar concepts in other countries are on-going. NEPCon is involved as a key partner in all of these initiatives.
Meanwhile, the Swedish forest group Södra started to offer extra price premiums for member operations that added an FSC certificate to their existing PEFC certificate, and inform about the added market value of FSC. This resulted in FSC certification of 8,000 Swedish forest owners in just a few months.
FSC also launched new rules applying to group certification of forests that may help to enhance the certification of the smallest forests.
While it is too early to say whether we're about to see a signficant expansion of FSC certified area among European smallholders in the near future, at least the ground is being prepared for such a development.
....And all for a good reason
There is no doubt that the growth of the FSC system brings benefits to wíldlife and people connected with forests. Several impact studies carried out during 2009 clearly demonstrate the value of FSC certification and the impact that the Forest Stewardship has on the ground as well as on policy-making in the forestry sector. It has even been shown to have impact beyond the forestry sector - sometimes it can also act as a model for introducing transparency and stakeholder-based decision-making as well.
Top photo courtesy of FSC-International.
FSC certification of 8,000 Swedish family forests (12/12 2009)
FSC-certified daily newspapers launched in Europe (7/12 2009)
Gucci follows green fashion trend in paper procurement (4/12 2009)
Tetra Pak to supply over 1.5 billion FSC-cartons (23/10 2009)
Lidl and SIG launch FSC-labeled beverage cartons (16/10 2009)