Sustainable and Organic Market Analysis & News

Certified Wood Products

Ekobai.com`s guide to certified wood products features all the latest updates from the world of sustainable forestry. You will also find key information on the role of the leading standards and certification bodies in the marketplace including the FSC Chain of Custody and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The guide features descriptions of and links to all the main forestry certifiers including the Rainforest Alliance, PEFC, MTCC, SGEC, Certfor and the WWF

Overview

The global market for forest and wood products is worth over $300 billion (USD) per year. However, as an industrial sector it is highly sensitive to environmental pressures. In recent years, groups like Greenpeace have been successfully pushing leading brand name, consumer-driven companies such as Home Depot and Walmart to only buy from certified suppliers who can prove good environmental performance. An example of how significant the impact of such pressure can be is Asia Pulp and Paper, Asia’s leading paper supplier. This company lost over $100 million-worth of business with European customers who were urged by NGOs to stop buying from it. In addition, global legislative efforts are underway to ban the trade in illegally logged timber and timber products. In the US, the Initiative Against Illegal Logging (IALL) now allows for companies to be prosecuted for trade in illegal timber products – and there are strong trends to adopt similar laws in the EU. Therefore buyers in the US and the EU will increasingly require assurance, in the form of supply chain transparency, that they will not be liable for prosecution. Currently illegal logging represents an estimated 20-40% of global timber production and trade.

Role of standards within the market

The key issues in the forestry sector are the use of illegally logged timber and timber sourced from environmentally-sensitive areas. Buyers in the US and the EU want assurance from their suppliers that products do not contain either of these, both to avoid potential prosecution under the new laws and to avoid attack from pressure groups. Thus a system of voluntary standards, certified by reliable third-party auditors has emerged to provide buyers and other interested parties with reliable information on the wood products they are purchasing and the forestry industry generally.  

Leading standards

There are over 30 standards and schemes your company can get involved in to demonstrate commitment to your customers when it comes to sustainable forestry. These range from domestic systems such as the American Tree Farm System, clubs such as WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) to the established international standards run by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). In general, only standards that are audited by recognized, third-party auditors are of value when it comes to global trade. A list of the other main standards is on the right.

Based in Germany, the FSC is a non-profit group with national-level organizations in major forestry producing and consuming countries. It runs two main standards, one for forest owners (FM or Forest Management certification) and one for producers and exporters of forest products (CoC, or Chain of Custody). Roughly 12,000 companies around the world are FSC-certified, the majority to the CoC standard. In general the CoC standard relates to particular products/factories while the FM relates to a forestry plantation or source.
 
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards originate in the US. The FSC is regarded as more of an international standard, while SFI certified companies are mainly based in the US and Canada. However, important US buyers may be more familiar with the SFI system and this should be taken into consideration when seeking certification.

Guidance for businesses

You should survey your customers and ask them which standards or qualifications are acceptable and which auditors you should use to prove you have achieved this standard. If you are engaged in global trade, by far the most accepted standards are administered by either the FSC or the SFI. For some European buyers, such as the retailer B&Q, certification to FSC is a requirement for doing business. In other cases, certification to forestry standards may offer you a real advantage even if your price is slightly higher than competitors.

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Ekobai.com`s guide to certified wood products features all the latest updates from the world of sustainable forestry. You will also find key information on the role of the leading standards and certification bodies in the marketplace including the FSC Chain of Custody and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The guide features descriptions of and links to all the main forestry certifiers including the Rainforest Alliance, PEFC, MTCC, SGEC, Certfor and the WWF

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