Cardboard is becoming one of the most popular materials used in the packaging industry, especially in the wake of the Plastic Packaging Tax that was introduced in April 2022, and the UK Government’s commitment to a carbon neutral future.
It’s estimated that 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are used in the UK annually (West Lothian Council), and 2.8 billion parcels were sent across the UK last year. According to Statista, 80% of cardboard and paper used in the UK was recycled in 2021.
Consumer behaviour is also changing, with customers expecting brands to opt for more sustainable alternatives. It’s time for brands to look at eco-friendly packaging alternatives, or risk being left behind.
FSC cardboard boxes are one of the easiest ways for a company to kick start their transition to sustainable packaging, but you’re probably thinking “what is FSC, and why should I care?”
Don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about FSC and how it can benefit your business. So grab a cuppa, sit back, relax and leave it to the professional boxers (that’s us, Titan Packaging, your expert packaging consultants).
What is FSC®?
FSC stands for The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC), and refers to the not-for-profit, international membership organisation that aims to protect and maintain sustainable forest management across the globe.
Founded in 1994, The FSC®’s initial goal was to stop deforestation of the Amazonian rainforest in northwestern Brazil and Columbia. However, as companies continued to strip the earth of its natural resources, The FSC® grew rapidly. Now, it includes human rights and environmental organisations, and forest owners across 26 countries.
What is the importance of FSC?
The FSC® is crucial as it serves best practices and high standards when it comes to sustainable forest management and protecting endangered species. This paves the way to a much safer and more secure future for the planet. This also ensures the responsible production of paper and wood across the globe, and protects over 200 hectares of forest.
How does FSC work?
The FSC® enforce their practices through a stringent set of standards based on 10 principles and 70 criteria. These principles are as follows:
- Compliance with laws
The Organisation shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally-ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements.
- Workers' rights and employment conditions
The Organisation shall maintain or enhance the social and economic well-being of workers.
- Indigenous peoples’ rights
The Organisation shall identify and uphold indigenous peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.
- Community relations
The Organisation shall contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic well-being of local communities.
- Benefits from the forest
The Organisation shall efficiently manage the range of multiple products and services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long term economic viability and the range of environmental and social benefits.
- Environmental values and impact
The Organisation shall maintain, conserve and/or restore ecosystem services and environmental values of the Management Unit, and shall avoid, repair or mitigate negative environmental impacts.
- Management planning
The Organisation shall have a management plan consistent with its policies and objectives and proportionate to scale, intensity and risks of its management activities.
The management plan shall be implemented and kept up to date based on monitoring information in order to promote adaptive management. The associated planning and procedural documentation shall be sufficient to guide staff, inform affected stakeholders and interested stakeholders and to justify management decisions.
- Monitoring and assessment
The Organisation shall demonstrate that progress towards achieving the management objectives, the impacts of management activities and the condition of the Management Unit, are monitored and evaluated proportionate to the scale, intensity and risk of management activities, in order to implement adaptive management.
- High conservation values
The Organisation shall maintain and/or enhance the high conservation values in the Management Unit through applying the precautionary approach.
- Implementation of management activities
Management activities conducted by or for the Organisation for the Management Unit shall be selected and implemented consistent with the Organisation’s economic, environmental and social policies and objectives, and in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively (fsc.org).
Independent organisations inspect forests against these principles to ensure that every forest is managed in an economically viable, environmentally friendly and socially beneficial manner. Any material that's manufactured into paper, cardboard and other products then carries the FSC label.
What products is FSC used on?
Cardboard and paper aren’t the only FSC certified products. Books, toilet rolls, furniture, food packaging and so much more can be FSC labelled.
What are The FSC® labels?
There are three types of FSC labels. These are:
Every material in a product with that label has been sourced from forests that are managed in accordance to the FSC®’s stringent regulations and criteria and 100% aligns with The FSC’s social and environmental objectives. This label is the highest distinction.
If a product has an FSC recycled label, it means it is made from 100% recycled material. This label aims to relieve the demand of virgin material and helps protect forests across the globe.
FSC Mixed labels mean that the product has a mix of FSC®-certified materials, forests and controlled wood. It is important to note that controlled wood doesn’t come from FSC forests, but reduces the risk of virgin materials being taken from the wrong sources.
What are the business advantages of using FSC cardboard?
Whilst there are several socio economic advantages that come with FSC cardboard, there are also several business benefits. These include:
Meeting customer demands (and driving sales)
As customer behaviour and wants change, the demand for sustainable packaging is ever-increasing, and FSC labelled packaging is a brilliant way to communicate your brand’s commitment to sustainability.
An FSC study had shown that 75% of UK shoppers would choose a product featuring the FSC logo over one without the label. Your FSC logo could be the distinguishing mark against your competitors, and drive sales.
Improved brand perception
FSC certified cardboard can work wonders for your brand’s perception and improve overall market positioning, as The FSC® is a highly regarded company.
82% of FSC certificate holders (and 88% of non-manufacturers and retailers) stated that having an FSC certification helped improve their corporate image (Forestry South Africa).
Great for marketing and promotion
According to The FSC®, 3 in 5 UK consumers want cardboard and paper packaging to come from sustainable sources, and 64% of certificate holders agree that the FSC label adds value, and helps to drive sales when used in promotional material.
When you work with packaging consultants such as Titan Packaging, we’ll source FSC certified cardboard and paper, and ensure the FSC logos and trademarks are printed on your packaging in accordance with The FSC® 's packaging logo guidelines, which can help your marketing tenfold.
Guarantee of sustainability
If a product has an FSC logo, you can guarantee that your products and material comes from sustainable sources, and you’re doing your bit for the environment. This reduces the risk of being accused of greenwashing, as you’re showcasing your company’s commitment to environmentally friendly alternatives.
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
When you join an FSC scheme, it will contribute towards your company's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. According to the FSC, 88% of retailers and non-manufacturers stated that FSC helps them to promote their Corporate Social Responsibility.
At Titan Packaging we’re working towards becoming an FSC certified company, and ensure that we buy from a chain of FSC certified suppliers.
We strive to deliver low carbon and sustainable packaging processes - it is in our DNA, and we are now ISO9001 and ISO140001 compliant. We’re also working with Ecologi to offset our carbon emissions as we strive towards a net zero future. Get in touch with the packaging consultants at Titan today.