FSC: implications for the print industry

Sundeep Agarwal, an auditor for Forest Stewardship Council provides a worldwide perspective on FSC certification and highlights its significance for Indian printing and packaging firms

04 Jan 2013 | By PrintWeek India

A genesis to end
Sustainable forest management has become a global issue with consumers demanding green paper and wood products that originate from well managed forests. Environmental concerns, especially those of illegal and indiscriminate logging, have been translated by forest certification into market signals that affect the printers, publishers and label manufacturers. The printing industry can so easily become the bête noire when it comes to environmental discussions regarding the future of the planet. While we can choose to buy a hybrid car or change an incandescent light bulb to a CFL, it is hard not to read paper-based publications. The truth is that we all read publications and hold in our hands the product of the printing industry’s endeavors – ink on paper. And it’s going to stay that way for many years to come. Yet, the printing industry needs to understand its impact on our world – paper and power consumption and waste generation – and how we can help minimise that impact.

Over the last five years, there has been a noticeable shift in the publication industry toward FSC paper. Support from FSC’s stakeholders, such as Greenpeace’s book campaign, GFTN and Forest Ethics, has been key to this success. FSC paper is showing up in some remarkably ordinary places, an indication of how “mainstream” FSC has become. Deutsche Post, the German postal service and one of the world’s largest logistic corporations, now prints 100 million “Plusbrief” pre-stamped envelopes and postcards per year on FSC certified paper. Germany’s Deutsche Bahn rail company uses FSC certified paper for the roughly 32 million selfserve tickets it prints annually at station locations, and is using FSC certified paper for its travel plan documents and payment confirmations. Rabobank, the biggest bank in the Netherlands, has committed to using FSC paper in their administrative activities. FSC has become a symbol for companies practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Large corporates have realised the importance of sustainability and sustainable products. As a part of their sustainable procurement policy, they have been the driving force behind the procurement of FSC certified paper for their business needs like products, books, packaging material to the extent that companies have started printing their annual reports on FSC certified paper. Environmental reports released by Coca-Cola, Vodafone, Arvato, Neckermann and Global Compact have been printed on FSC paper. FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide. The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value.
Yesteryear: change and change
In the 1990s, in the United Kingdom, BBC Magazines made the first move in the editorial sector, committing to use FSC paper for its edition of BBC Wildlife. Presently, BBC Wildlife, BBC Music Magazine, Radio Times, Songs of Praise and the teen title It’s HOT! are all printed on FSC paper. Their combined circulation amounts to about one quarter of a million copies.  For most printers, the need to adapt to the best environment practices is driven by pressure from their customers and agencies. Increasingly, print buyers specify the use of FSC or PEFC paper stocks – though the current economic downturn has changed this a bit. Two aspects or ingredients can immediately be demanded by printers from their paper suppliers – the first is the origin and sustainability of the fibre and the second is the bleaching method used in pulping process. Printers are increasingly using vegetable based inks instead of oil-based inks and looking at alcohol free dampening solutions. 
Moreover, under the new Lacy Act law passed by the American government, “All wood products and producers have to be certified by FSC certification or equivalent to have originated from a legal resource and the entry for the wood products is banned in to USA. A similar act has been put in place by European Union (FLEGT License) to stop the trade in illegal wood and wood products. Other countries are also in  the process of establishing a similar code.
Global trend: press to impress 
Canadian publisher (2003), Raincoast Books started greening HarryPotter when it printed Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix on 100% recycled paper, and repeated this initiative with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which was printed on FSC certified paper. This move helped save over 67,000 trees. This trend is now being echoed by other publishers across the globe. 
In the book publishing industry, the Green Press Initiative (GPI), a non-profit based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, works with both publishers and authors to help ‘green’ the industry. In one of the projects, GPI worked with Yvon Chouinard, founder of the retail chain store Patagonia, to have his new book, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman (The Penguin Press, October 2005) printed on FSC certified Domtar EarthChoice paper. GPI worked closely with printer RR Donnelley, which already had FSC chain-of-custody certification for many of its facilities that print magazines and catalogues, to expand the scope of their certification to include the book production facilities (five in the USA, and one in Mexico) so that this book could be labelled as printed on FSC certified paper. The certification was granted by Scientific Certification Systems.
The biggest publisher in Germany, Random House Germany, is currently printing 85 percent of its books on FSC certified paper and had committed to using FSC certified paper for all their titles in 2006. In the UK, two of the top five publishers, Random House UK and Pearson (Penguin) have introduced new paper policies and Egmont, a major children’s publisher has also followed suit. In Spain, fifteen titles and more than 7,00,000 books have been printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper and same has happened with over 1,30,000 books in Italy.  
Greenpeace has commended the efforts of 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, José Saramago, and several of his publishing houses for joining the Greenpeace Book Campaign and printing the Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, French and Catalan editions of his new novel on FSC certified paper.  More than 70 other publishing houses in Canada and Europe have already joined the Greenpeace Book Campaign and pledged to stop using paper that contains fiber from ancient forests for all their books. With the support of authors like Saramago, JK Rowling (UK), Isabel Allende (Chile/US), Margaret Atwood (Canada) and Günter Grass (Germany), more than 6.5 million books have been printed on papers from responsible sources.
Indian Incs: In the transits
Several overseas print buyers are also keen to move towards environment friendly paper and print processes hence environment protection is also catching up in India. Local, governmental, corporates, and society at large are waking up to the fact that all need to contribute at every level to protect the environment for our future generations. 
The Indian printing industry is no exception. Be it machines, or paper or inks – most of the companies all have to, sooner rather than later, change to eco-friendly systems and solutions. 
As an answer to these, there are good numbers of FSC chain of custody certificate holders (332 numbers till October 2012) in India out of which few renowned names in the printing and packaging industry who are also contributing towards saving the planet are – Archies, Manipal Press, Thomson Press, Pragati Offset, Parksons, Replika Press, Repro India, SAP Print, Arun Art Printers, Decorpac, Jayant Printery, Lynx, M K Printpack, Lustra, Chanakya Mudrak, Printografik, Rich Offset, Print House India, Manohar Filaments, Jhaveri Packaging, Multivista Global etc.  
These companies are not just catering to the domestic market but are addressing themselves to the international requirements as well. Therefore a printing or packaging company in India would gain an added advantage in terms of measurable contribution to protect our forests, greater customer satisfaction, stronger reputation and brand image, access to new markets, value-added integrity and quality of products, free media and public relations and international recognition. 
The growth in use of FSC paper can be attributed in no small part to the influence of NGOs that call commercial entities to greater responsibility. But commercial interests themselves – particularly those seeking to demonstrate their corporate social and environmental responsibility – are becoming an increasingly significant driver of the certified pulp and paper market. 
Whatever the source of motivation, the result is greater incentive for responsible management of forests worldwide.