A lot of products made from wood or paper boast that they are “FSC certified”. But what is the FSC, and how do products get certified? Here’s everything you need to know!
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 dedicated to promoting responsible forest management. The FSC seeks to combat the consequences of industrial development within forestry, such as the disruption of ecosystems and displacement of indigenous peoples. FSC ensures that the production of a tree-based product does not exceed the forest’s capabilities of regeneration, which prevents deforestation.
In order to receive FSC certification, products must meet ten core principles and 57 criteria established by the organization. This rigorous process ensures that forest products are produced in a way that does not harm the forest, its surrounding environment, ecosystems, or indigenous lands.
FSC also considers the regulations of the countries where forestry takes place. There are various types of certifications available that indicate whether a product is made entirely of FSC-certified materials, or includes recycled materials from other sources.
Timber production that follows the "chain of custody" principle is automatically labeled with FSC certification. This principle involves maintaining a supply chain that tracks the origin of materials.
The FSC has been criticized by some for not holding its partners accountable for violating their principles. As a result, the FSC label on some products may not always reflect their sustainability and could be seen as an example of greenwashing. Furthermore, critics argue that the FSC has had minimal impact on industrialized deforestation, which has been on the rise in recent years. Although there are alternative ways to determine if a timber byproduct was made ethically and sustainably, the FSC remains the most common resource for this information.