Communication Needs to Become a Priority 

By Jesse Cruz, FSC International  

It’s been 20 years since mixing was first introduced into the FSC system, and social and environmental chamber members want clear communication around mixing, the ‘FSC MIX’ product label, and controlled wood.

The ‘FSC 100%’ and ‘FSC RECYCLED’ product logos are relatively simple and easy to understand, but a recent study shows that the ‘FSC MIX’ product logo is not as clear – and that’s a problem for social and environmental chamber members.  

Two thousand consumers in the USA, Germany and China were asked about their perceptions of FSC labels. The results revealed that consumers have very little awareness of the different labels in the FSC system.  

But it’s not the labels social and environmental members are concerned about, they are concerned about the entire component that allows noncertified inputs to enter the system. 

How important are ‘FSC MIX’ products to the FSC portfolio and why was it allowed it in the first place?  

A study in 2014 found that the sale value of ‘FSC Mix’ is USD 250 Billion, and the estimated sale of controlled wood is USD 110 Billion. It is a component which plays a critical role in the system.  

In the early years of FSC, a product could only carry the FSC product logo if it was manufactured exclusively with material sourced from FSC-certified forests.  

Mixing was first introduced in 1997 after forest product manufacturers made it clear that keeping FSC-certified material separate from non-certified material was prohibitively expensive and logistically implausible. This was especially true for pulp and paper companies that deal with large supplies of timber.  

Manufacturers needed a way to allow non-certified inputs to mix with FSC-certified material in their production. So in 2004, FSC created the controlled wood standards to better define the limits of using uncertified materials in FSC-certified products.  

 How do we communicate about mixed materials? 

 FSC needs to find a way to continue developing the ‘Controlled Wood Strategy‘ between now and the next meeting in June 2018. Members are asking FSC to focus on strategic communications and to bring in the right people to continue these discussions, rather than employing the traditional ways of communication through newsletters and online consultations.  

While a decision on the ‘FSC MIX’ product label will not be taken until 2019, FSC will focus on communicating and educating stakeholders about mixing and controlled wood.  

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