Businesses face myriad ongoing challenges: Apart from the day-to-day fluctuations in market dynamics, entrepreneurs must deal with economies of scale, inter- and intra-market competition and regulatory compliance.
Yet some voluntary compliance can unleash a competitive advantage expedites addressing the other challenges. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is precisely one such step: Especially in a time when consumer interest in sustainable materials continues to grow, FSC-certified wood and paper make sense economically, socially and environmentally.
For instance, paper and wood – from a responsibly managed source – have numerous benefits over other materials in construction, manufacturing, packaging and retail. Recent research has shown that FSC certification can bring improved market access, higher revenues and enhanced public image in several ways.
- Raise standards: FSC certification acts as a catalyst for improving standards in forest management. It brings economic benefits by opening up new markets and helps ensure social benefits to workers and local people, and facilitates environmental benefits for biodiversity and ecosystems. Amongst FSC’s members are the world’s largest and most respected environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace and WWF, both of which are vocal in their support of FSC over other certifiers.
- Create competitive advantages: FSC certification can help businesses achieve higher revenues and enhance their public image. By becoming FSC-certified, producer businesses and forest owners can enter new markets and gain a stronger, more diverse customer base. Retailers and suppliers can strengthen their reputations, provide assurance about ethical and environmental product standards and forge stronger links with their own clients.
- Connect with consumers: FSC provides a link between the forest and the end user. Its certification allows consumers to be confident that the products they are buying come from a responsible source. FSC’s credibility is a great brand benefit, enhancing trustworthiness and marketing possibilities.
- Fight climate change: FSC eliminates deforestation, forest degradation and illegal logging in certified areas. Moreover it is the organisation’s endeavour to grow the market for sustainable forest products and to highlight the dangers of poor forestry practice – measures which all help contribute to climate change mitigation.
- Get ahead of government requirements: FSC certification vastly reduces the risk of being confronted with illegal timber. A growing number of countries and regions – including the European Union, USA and Australia – have legislation banning the trade and use of illegally harvested timber and derived products. For FSC, respecting all relevant laws is the first of its ten principles and part of the certification and auditing process.
FSC certification vastly reduces the risk of being confronted with illegal timber, and thus reduces the risk of reputation damage that would follow. In addition, national, regional and local governments increasingly reference FSC as one way to comply with their public procurement policies as they seek products that support sustainable forest management.
Thus, by being FSC-certified, companies can demonstrate their commitment to a triple-bottom-line approach to business.