What is FSC Paper?

The popularity of FSC-certified paper has exploded in recent years. To the point that it is getting close to becoming an industry standard in many countries around the world. Some individuals and businesses may be tempted to stick to conventional paper because it can be more expensive than FSC certified. However, the benefits of FSC certified paper outweigh the additional cost.

FSC paper, however, is more than just a printing material. The FSC system is all about protecting the world’s forests for the future and ensuring that the creation of paper products is not detrimental to the wider environment.

What is FSC?

FSC is the only certification scheme for forest products that is endorsed by major environmental charities, such as Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust. The scheme was born out of a desire to protect the world’s forests, to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits of the forests. The scheme also aims to protect the rights of any indigenous people who use the forest, and some areas may be protected entirely to look after rare animals and plants.

The owners of FSC certified forests are also required to employ local workers and ensure that they are always paid a fair wage.

FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. This is a global organisation that works to promote sustainable forestry. The Forest Stewardship Council sets standards for forest products and independently verifies that these standards are being met, before bestowing the FSC label upon qualifying products. On top of paper, the FSC label can also be found on garden furniture, tools, brushes, wallpaper, flooring, doors, charcoal and more; in essence, it can be found on anything at all that is made from wood!

Products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council should meet the highest environmental and social standards, so you can rest assured that buying this item will not mean harming the world’s forests.

FSC Label

What are the three types of FSC labels?

There are three types of FSC labels and these offer assurances that the product is either made with or contains forest-based materials from reclaimed sources, or from FSC-certified forests. The three types of FSC labels are 100%, FSC Mixed, and FSC Recycled.

FSC 100%

All the forest-based timbers or fibres in products that carry the FSC 100% label come from an FSC-certified forest.


Paper that carries the FSC Mix label means that all the wood or fibres are either from FSC Certified forests, recycled, or from controlled sources. The controlled sources are risk-assessed to ensure that no illegal logging or violations of any rights are taking place.

FSC Recycled

Paper products that carry the FSC Recycled label are made from materials that have been recycled either pre-or post-consumer. Pre-consumer recycled materials are those that were unfit for use, such as damaged stock, sawdust, and offcuts. Post-consumer materials are those that have been used for either commercial or consumer use.


Why look for the FSC logo?

FSC certified forests are run with careful consideration taken as to how the activities will affect local people, wildlife, and the environment.

By purchasing paper products that carry the FSC logo, you can ensure that all the trees harvested to create the product are either replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally.

Some parts of FSC certified forests are protected entirely, to protect rare or endangered plants and animals. In fact, FSC is the only wood certification scheme that is recognised and endorsed by major environmental charities, such as WWF and The Woodland Trust.

The FSC certification scheme protects the rights of indigenous people, and if there are any sacred sites, these are entirely protected from felling. By purchasing paper products that are from FSC accredited forests, you can do your bit to protect the forest for future generations.

All FSC accredited products are tracked all the way from the forest to the store. Every link between the forest and end consumer is certified to make it easy to identify which products are FSC certified, and which are not.

Benefits of using FSC certified paper products

One key benefit of using FSC certified paper products is that you can rest assured that your activities are supporting sustainable forestry, to the benefit of future generations, wildlife, and plant life.

The FSC actively supports Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and they work to ensure residents of the area benefit from the jobs the industry creates.

Buying FSC certified paper products reduces the need for illegal logging and poor forestry practices that contribute to climate change. The FSC is working to eliminate deforestation, forest degradation and illegal logging in areas that are certified.

Opting for products that carry one of the FSC certification labels means that you are putting the planet first, wherever in the world you are.


How can I be sure a paper product really is FSC-certified?

Unfortunately, just because a product or website carries the FSC label, that is not enough to automatically guarantee that a paper product really is FSC certified.

If you want to confirm the validity of an FSC claim, you can do so on the FSC Certificate Database. On this database, you can search for an organisation either by their license number, or the organisation’s name. If the supplier is listed on this database with a valid certificate, you can rest assured that they are certified by the FSC.

However, be aware that just because a supplier has an FSC certificate, it does not mean that all their products are FSC certified. In fact, many suppliers will sell both certified and non-certified products.

You can confirm whether the specific product you are looking at is FSC certified by checking the scope of the certificate that they hold. Under the “products” section on the certificate, you will find information on the product type that is covered by the certificate.


FSC certification standards

The Forest Stewardship Council has a strict set of standards that determine whether a product can carry the FSC label. These guidelines are in place to ensure that these paper products are truly as environmentally and socially responsible as they claim to be. As a result of the scope of projects covered by FSC, there are multiple certifications offered.

Forest management

FSC forest management certification requires an audit of how the forest is managed by an independent organisation. This audit will determine whether the forest meets internationally and nationally agreed standards in terms of responsible forest management. If this is awarded, products produced by the forest can then carry the FSC label.

In the UK, FSC certified forests need to document in detail the species of trees, the products they produce, the volume of products produced, the date of the logging, and whether the product was sold as FSC certified.

To be awarded a forest management certification, there are 10 principles that organisations must follow.

Principle 1

The first principle is that organisations must comply with any applicable laws, regulations, treaties, conventions, and agreements relevant to their activities.

Principle 2

Organisations must either maintain or enhance the social and economic well-being of their employees.

Principle 3

Organisations managing forests must uphold indigenous peoples’ legal and customary rights, including ownership, use, and management of land. Any sacred sites must also be protected from felling.

Principle 4

The organisation must contribute to maintaining or improving the social and economic wellbeing of surrounding communities.

Principle 5

Organisations must efficiently manage the products or services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long-term economic viability, and the range of environmental and social benefits they are responsible for.

Principle 6

The organisation must maintain, conserve, or restore any ecosystem services and any environmental values of the Management Unit. The organisation must also avoid, repair, or mitigate any negative environmental impact that they have.

Principle 7

Organisations must have a management plan that is consistent with their policies and objectives. This plan must be proportionate to the scale, intensity, and risks of their activities. The plan must always be kept up to date.

Principle 8

Organisations must be able to demonstrate that they are making progress towards their objectives, the impact of their activities, and the condition of the Management Unit. This must be monitored and evaluated to implement adaptive management.

Principle 9

Organisations must always maintain or enhance the Management Unit’s high conservation values by applying the precautionary approach.

Principle 10

Management activities conducted either by or on behalf of the organisation must be selected and implemented consistently with the organisation’s economic, environmental, and social policies and objectives.


Chain of custody

The chain of custody certification tracks FSC products from forest to end-user. These products are checked and followed at every stage of processing to ensure that customers purchasing the products can be confident that the products are genuinely FSC certified.

Chain of custody certification is required by any company that is involved in processing FSC certified products. This can include manufacturing, cutting, repackaging, or making any other changes to an FSC certified product.

In terms of the printing industry, this includes both publishers and printers.

Benefits of  FSC managed forests

In addition to supporting the paper industry, well-managed FSC forests offer a range of benefits. These can include supporting the local ecosystem and biodiversity, as well as the livelihoods of people around the world.

In total, there are now more than 220 million hectares of FSC certified forest around the world. European forests, for example, are growing an area equivalent to 1,500 football pitches each day. More than 60% of this area is certified to FSC or PEFC standards, in part thanks to the ongoing support of the paper industry.

The print and paper industry recognises that healthy forests are necessary for the industry to continue to grow, and as a result, schemes such as FSC are ingrained into each stage of the industry.

Sustainably managed forests are necessary to maintain the current paper manufacturing cycle, to keep quality up and keep the industry going. Europe is a world-leader in recycling paper, with as much as 72% being recycled. However, recycled fibres start to degrade after several uses, and so they need to be mixed with fresh fibre to keep the cycle going. This is where sustainable forests such as FSC certified ones come in.

The Printroom Group uses only FSC Approved Paper

When you shop online with Manual Printers, you can rest assured that you are doing your bit to help the environment. Manual Printers and the wider Printroom Group are environmentally conscious, and so all paper used is FSC certified and harvested from FSC approved responsibly managed forests.

Find out more about how Manual Printers can help you by browsing our full print catalogue, or getting in touch.

If you want to find out more about the Printroom Group head on over to our main website : www.printroom.co.uk