Certified Sense

Bonnie Howard May 5, 2015


PEFC, The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, is the world’s leading forest certification system. So far more than 260 million hectares of forests have been certified to PEFC’s internationally recognised Sustainability Benchmarks, supplying more than 16,000 Chain of Custody certified companies with responsibly sourced timber and wood products, such as those used in producing fibre-based packaging.

PEFC was founded in 1999 by small and family forest owners to demonstrate excellence in sustainable forest management practices.

The PEFC logo – a tasty proposition

The PEFC logo – a tasty proposition

Today, more and more companies from SMEs to global brands are keen to demonstrate that the fibre they use in their packaging comes from a certified sustainable source. This is important as consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact of their purchasing decisions, something underlined when, last year, PEFC undertook their first Global Consumer Survey which revealed that when it comes to purchasing products, particularly packaging, more than 80% of consumers globally want companies sourcing certified material from sustainable managed forests to use certification labels. The survey showed that certification labels, such as PEFCs, are the most trusted means of giving confidence to consumers that wood-based products are responsibly sourced.

According to the results, consumers globally believe that it is important to make ethical choices, with 60% of all those surveyed agreeing that their shopping choice for a labelled product can make a positive difference to the world’s forest. Only a small minority, 10%, felt that their choice for a sustainably sourced product would not make
a difference.

The survey also showed that certification labels, such as the PEFCs, are the most trusted means of giving confidence to consumers that wood-based products are sustainably sourced.

The research went on to find that over half of all consumers (54%) consider certification labels as the most reassuring proof that environmental and sustainable development considerations have been taken into account. Other means of proof include country of origin (30%), brand (24%) and recommendations by family/friends and media (17% and 16% respectively). The overwhelming majority of consumers globally – more than 80% – want
companies to use labels on products to communicate their responsible sourcing practices to them. Only 4% disagreed that companies should use labels.

IUntitlednternationally, 40% of consumers recognise a global forest certification label; the label recognition of PEFC is at 21%. The first PEFC Global Consumer Survey was undertaken by German-based GfK on behalf of PEFC International with a sample of a total of 13,000 people in 13 countries, 1000 men and women aged 16+ years per country, in Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA.

2015 is also particularly important as it marks the 20th year of Forest Certification, and the results of the Consumer Survey clearly reveal that over this period, both the environment and certification in particular, have clearly become key issues in consumer purchasing decisions.

I cannot stress the importance of adopting certified packaging principle enough, and how this can reap benefits for both brand owners and manufacturers alike. As an organisation we are currently engaged in a campaign to encourage end-users such as brand owners and retailers to demonstrate their support for responsible forest management by developing a responsible procurement policy that recognises PEFC- certified raw materials, requesting PEFC-certified packaging from their suppliers and using PEFC’s distinctive ‘green trees’ logo to demonstrate to customers that they have sourced packaging raw materials from responsibly-managed forests.

Organisations such as the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) are concentrating efforts on expanding the use of certified products. In 2013, the CGF published guidelines to support its target of zero net deforestation by 2020 and recognised PEFC-certified products as providing companies with verification of legality and providing a low risk of controversial sources which contribute
to deforestation.

PEFC is a leading global forest certification programme. It is a bottom-up forest certification system that specifically focuses on enabling small and family forest owners to obtain certification and is widely regarded as the certification system of choice for smallholders. To date, PEFC has recognised national certification systems in more than 30
countries. Together these account for over a quarter a billion hectares of certified forests, making PEFC the world’s largest forest certification system. PEFC certification is also recognised in public and private sector procurement policies around the world. PEFC will be exhibiting at Packaging Innovations at Olympia in September, but in the meantime more information can be found at the website below.