TRACING PAPER – CERTIFICATION
ne of the most important responses to growing public concern about the potential impacts of worldwide paper production has been the establishment and expansion of sustainable certification schemes. These aim to establish the sustainability of paper production all the way from the tree to the finished product and give consumers who care about the world’s forest the chance to choose the best options available.
One of the best-known certification schemes is the Forest Stewardship Council. It was set up in 1993 as an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation by business representatives, social groups and environmental organisations. It has since spread to more than 50 countries, including 1.4 million hectares of New Zealand, and covers 140 million hectares of forest worldwide.
PMP New Zealand now only buys certified paper. Miller says: “Third party certification costs a lot of money to achieve, but once you achieve them you can use those logos on your corporate promotional material. More importantly if everybody in the supply chain has the certification you can put the logo on the document itself.”
The world’s largest forest certification scheme is The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification or PEFC. It covers 239 million hectares. Taken together these two schemes oversee a worldwide area of forest roughly 14 times the size of the New Zealand land mass. And they are growing.
For the time being, certified fibre and the paper products made from it do cost a little more, but Miller believes the gap will close as demand and supply of certified paper continues to increase. In the future, he believes that this higher standard will become the new norm for the whole industry. “I think it will take some time, as this is not just a question of getting a whole lot of environmental systems in place, or bleaching with different chemicals, this is a question of planting and using plantation methodology that is quite different to the current,” he says. “We are talking about tree life cycles of 20-30 years, and so are looking at a longer transition.” PMP is currently going through the FSC and PEFC Certification and intend to be fully certified early next year.