The FSC logo is well-recognised as a symbol of well-managed forests. It’s a logo that appears upon product labels to demonstrate the product is sourced from responsibly managed forests.

While we and our members readily understand these labels and their differences, we recognise that the everyday consumer may not be familiar with the difference between our FSC 100% and FSC Mix labels. However, we ensure that behind our label, there is a product which was made with forest materials from certified or responsible sources.

We have three different types of labels: FSC 100%, where material is only sourced from FSC-certified forests; FSC Recycled, where products are made from 100% recycled materials; and FSC Mix, where the output of labelled material fits exactly with the input of materials from certified forests and recycled materials – together making up at least 70% - and controlled sources.

FSC 100% is, of course, the best you can get. But this isn’t to say that because a product uses an FSC Mix label, rather than FSC 100%, it shouldn’t be trusted. It is still a symbol of responsible forest management.

To ensure the consumer can actually get FSC-certified materials, we've had to find a middle ground. Simply because the supply of FSC material is, in a number of cases, not certain enough that whole supply chains will accept just relying on FSC-certified material. It is our systems for controlled wood and recycled materials that offer this compromise: so while we cannot 100% guarantee every time, what we can do is give a 70% guarantee of certification, and control the remaining 30%.

FSC Mix guarantees to you that the product comes from a producer, who has bought material from forests certified to the highest standards, and whose production therefore supports responsible forest management.

How do we control risk?

To control which materials are allowed under our controlled wood system, we have a number of standards defining how we determine risk. It is assessed against a variety of categories, including: the risk of conversion of forest to other uses, the risk of destruction of high conservation values, the risk of illegality, the risk of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the materials and the risk of human or traditional rights violations.

Currently companies that source wood are allowed to carry out their own risk assessments, but for consistency across the system and avoiding conflict of interest, these requirements are being revised. As a result, company risk assessments will be phased out by the end of 2015 and be replaced by a new system of FSC-implemented risk assessments. Later this year, we will also be revising the rules of our trademark, including our FSC Mix label. A technical working group will be looking into those issues, and there will be the opportunity for all of our stakeholders to influence the way our rules are developed.

Our goal for 100%

We would love to be in a situation where FSC 100% was the norm, but we still have a way to go. So we have set up a system that offers the clearest and most practical solution currently available. It guarantees that the FSC label only goes on products where the producer has bought material from FSC certified forests to the highest standard that there is, together with controlled and reclaimed materials, to fit the volume sold as FSC certified. FSC makes consumers feel confident they are supporting responsible forest management and not incentivising forest destruction.

Yes, we’ve seen the demand for FSC products and the interest in being FSC certified increasing year by year. But there is still a long road before we can say we don’t need the controlled wood system at all any more.

The FSC 100% label is being used in the market. In fact, over a third of the certificate holder respondents of our global market survey report they sell FSC 100%. And we do actively encourage organisations to become FSC-certified, or move to FSC 100%. But in areas such as paper production, where you have highly diversified supply chains with very many different types of products, it still remains quite difficult to foresee any quick move from FSC Mix to FSC 100%.

For the foreseeable future we will need controlled wood, so our energy is focused on doing all we can to strengthen the controlled wood system. It’s something we’re spending a lot of time, resources and effort on at the moment – for the benefit of our members and consumers.