Consumer Choices / Expert Perspectives / Forestry

A Guide to FSC Labels

Jessica Gillen, certification services associate for the Rainforest Alliance’s forestry program, untangles the meaning behind the various FSC labels found on sustainable wood and paper products…

Let’s say you’re in the market for a wood product – maybe you’re looking for printer paper, disposable napkins or even a set of outdoor furniture. Naturally, as a conscientious consumer, you want to ensure that the wood used in the item’s production came from a sustainable source. You already know that Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is the gold standard for responsible forest management and that FSC-certified forestry businesses must comply with rigorous environmental and social criteria in order to use the FSC trademarks. But when you go to check the labels on the products you’re considering, you discover that there is more than one type of FSC trademark. Although all three FSC labels indicate a commitment to responsible forestry on the part of the manufacturer, each mark means something slightly different. Here’s how they break down:

  • The FSC 100% (Pure) labels may only be used on products made exclusively from virgin fiber originating in FSC-certified forests.
  • The FSC Recycled label is applied to goods made only from reclaimed materials, which can be a combination of post-consumer and pre-consumer waste. (Pre-consumer waste refers to materials such as wood chips and other mill waste left over after processing.) In order for the FSC Recycled label to appear on a product, it must contain at least 85 percent post-consumer waste.
  • The FSC MIX label represents products that contain a combination of wood from FSC-certified forests, recycled content and/or material from other controlled sources. In order to carry the FSC MIX label, the proportion of FSC-certified and recycled material must be at least 70 percent. If a MIX product contains recycled material, the mobius loop within the FSC MIX label denotes the percentage of recycled content.

The Rainforest Alliance is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council FSC-ACC-004 © 1996 Forest Stewardship Council A.C.

FSC certification helps support responsible forest management around the world by recognizing companies that are manufacturing certified products and encouraging others that are still working toward this goal. By providing detailed information on the source of a product’s wood components, the various FSC marks allow consumers to make informed choices. The very existence of these marks is another example of the transparency that is a vital part of FSC certification.

The Rainforest Alliance was one of the founders of the FSC and is the world’s leading FSC-accredited certifier of forest management operations.

2 thoughts on “A Guide to FSC Labels

  1. What an excellent source of information Jessica. It helps reinforce the fact that our efforts in maintaining our Chain of Custody are worthwhile and perhaps are alleviating human suffering and restricting the hemorrhage of Rainforest destruction.

    Thank you for your support and professionalism.

  2. Very clear explanation about the FSC Labels, helpful to read this and then know what to look for when purchasing products. Do appreciate all the hard work and commitment to the environment. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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