FSC and Cerflor: sustainable product guarantee

Learn a little more about the FSC and Cerflor certifications on IP product packages and discover what is behind each of these seals


Thinking about sustainable development is part of the routine at International Paper, whose products follow strict and internationally recognized sustainability standards, such as Forest Stewardship Council, with its FSC certification, and Cerflor Forestry Certification, which follows Inmetro (National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology) standards.

The seals are well-known and are stamped on various products manufactured by International Paper, but what is their meaning? Why is it so important to get these seals?

FSC – Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-governmental organization that is responsible for promoting actions related to forestry management at the global level. In practice, FSC establishes international parameters for certification and credits certifying agencies, qualifying them to do audits. Companies interested in obtaining certification need to hire a certifier, who will go into the field to perform verification and provide guidance for the company to adapt to requirements.

“The audits verify how the company plants, how it cares for the eucalyptus during growth, the harvest, all of the processes involving the forest. This certification is different from factory certification, which assesses when I receive already certified wood so that the paper produced receives the seal,” explains Priscila Zahn, Coordinator of Manufacturing Excellence, an area also responsible for other IP certifications, such as ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment).

After the first certification assessment, the company makes the appropriate changes for its operations to be certified. The certificate is not issued by FSC but by the certifying company contracted by the company. After receiving the seal, an annual audit is performed to maintain the certificate. “Every five years, it needs to be renewed through a new audit process, which will verify if the company continues to fulfill all of the necessary requirements,” says Priscila Zahn.

When a company sells certified products, it is also necessary to obtain Chain of Custody Certification (CoC), which assures that production is done under socially responsible conditions, mitigating environmental damage throughout the production process, from receipt of raw material to final product. Chain of Custody certification shows the end consumer that the material being sold followed sustainable parameters from start to finish.

“We sell papers to printers that print books. If the printer wants certified books, they can buy our paper. So it certifies the chain of custody of the paper, verifying production from the time the raw material enters until the final product leaves. Here at IP, my raw material is wood, which is transformed into paper. At the printer, the raw material is paper, which becomes the book,” explains Priscila, underscoring that these are two different chains of custody and the certifying company will assess each of them separately.

The requirements for certification are the same: for the manufacturer, which turns wood into paper, and for the printer, which uses the paper to print books, or for the furniture industry, which needs to buy certified raw material if it wants to have FSC or Cerflor seals on their products.

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Este post também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)