What is FSC Certification?

Table of Contents

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification is a program that lays down several standards for logging companies. It helps them generate better economic returns while supporting the local communities, the workers, and the environment. The FSC logo, consisting of a tree and a green checkmark, assures consumers to track certified wood products throughout the supply chains. Moreover, it guarantees that they are products from responsibly managed forests monitored by legitimate third-party auditors.

The illegal harvest and degradation of forests in the tropics are widespread. FSC embodies the single-best tool to conserve these tropical forests and offer economic opportunities to smallholders and communities. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), forest management has at least 50 certification programs, and FSC is one of the fastest-growing schemes.

The FSC certified about 50 million hectares of forest from 2012 to 2017. By September 2017, FSC had about 198 million hectares of forests certified in 84 countries. About 84% of these FSC-certified forests are in North America and Europe. On the other hand, 16% of certified forests are in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Is FSC paper sustainable?

FSC has strict standards for paper products to ensure that they’re socially and environmentally responsible. They must have an FSC-certified label from the forest to the printer. Third-party auditors are independent and conduct chain custody assessments of companies wishing to get the FSC certification. Moreover, these companies must submit a management plan outlining the intensity and scale of logging and renewal operations and long-term goals to maintain forest health.

The FSC Labels

Millions of paper products now have FSC labels. Each label offers information about the source of the materials in making the labeled and finished product.

FSC 100%

Suppose a product bears an FSC 100% label. In that case, it means that its materials come from forests audited by independent third-party auditors certifying that the source meets the rigorous FSC environmental and social standards. FSC 100% is the highest distinction for certified paper products.

FSC Recycled

A product with this label comes from 100% recycled content, which can be pre-consumer or post-consumer reclaimed materials. Therefore, it can alleviate the demand for virgin material, thus protecting the forests worldwide.


An FSC Mix label means that the product uses a combination of materials from FSC controlled wood, recycled materials, and FSC-certified forests. Using controlled wood alleviates the risk of using materials from unacceptable sources.

The Reason for Having Three FSC Labels

If there’s demand for FSC-certified products, many companies will prefer to undergo FSC certification. Combining wood from various sources, even from controlled but not FSC-certified forests, can be the only practical way for manufacturers to create FSC-certified products. Unfortunately, many producers get their materials from both non-certified and FSC-certified forests because the FSC-certified woods can’t meet the demand.

Therefore, it’s necessary to mix sources because many sawmills and pulp and paper companies can’t segregate materials in their materials. Disallowing mixing would make it impossible to create FSC-certified and labeled products. Combining wood sources allow more companies to join the FSC system and provide more FSC-certified products. Increasing the visibility and supply means promoting the growth in demand. More forest owners will improve their practices and apply for FSC certification if there’s a growing demand. For now, allowing mixing makes it possible for FSC products to reach the market.

FSC Guidelines

The FSC Trademarks

The Forest Stewardship Council has four trademarks:

· Forest Stewardship Council

· The FSC Logo


· Forests-for-All-Forever

How to Use the Trademarks

· On-Product Use – use the trademarks as certified product labels or packaging.

· Promotional Use – use them for marketing purposes.

Approval Process for Using the FSC Trademarks

· Submit the planned use of the FSC trademark to NEPCon via email. If the company is sending a file, it must ensure a maximum 5MB size. It can use the trademarks only after receiving the formal approval through a NEPCon email.

· NEPCon may grant blanket approval for specific trademark use if the applicant has excellent records and a coherent division of responsibilities. A blanket approval includes on-product labeling.

Product Labeling

The FSC system offers product labels for companies’ products or packaging. In addition, it allows customization of their brands from the system itself. Manufacturers can select the product type, color combination, language, and landscape/portrait orientation from the system-generated designs. They may also use stand-alone FSC logos. FSC has strict requirements, and companies will know the details from the Guide on Using the FSC Trademarks.

Promotional Use

FSC-certified companies can use the FSC trademarks for their promotions. For instance, they can use the FSC trademarks and logo on their letterhead, homepage, standard invoice and delivery receipts, homepage, email signature, banners, product catalogs, and others.

Moreover, they may use the FSC trademarks on their corporate gift items. However, manufacturers can’t use the FSC trademarks on top of document templates, such as emails, sales documents, and letterheads.

Use of FSC Trademarks by Non-Certificate Holders

An individual or organization that isn’t FSC-certificate may use the FSC trademarks for the following:

· Advising or specifying the use of FSC products

· Promoting FSC-labeled products to end-users

· Promoting the use of FSC products in activities or businesses

· Promoting the FSC as a system

Multinational companies, retailers, and parent and holding companies may use the FSC trademarks without being FSC-certified. However, non-certificate holders must register with their local Trademark Service Provider.

Use of FSC Logo and Trademarks with Other Eco-Labels

The FSC doesn’t allow using its trademarks with other forest certification programs that imply equivalence. Moreover, it disallows use that is disadvantageous to the FSC regarding placement or size. On the other hand, the FSC allows using its logo with other eco-labels for promotional purposes, but it mandates NEPCon to approve the artwork first.

Forests for All Forever

The Forest for All Forever is a new toolkit for FSC-certified companies to promote their brand and products. It includes visuals for on-product and promotional use. However, the manufacturers must have a valid license agreement before FSC allows them to use it. They must also agree to the terms and conditions of the Forest for All Forever use. The trademarks are available in these languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Russian, and French.


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