By Brad Kahn, FSC USA
Fueled by a sense of urgency to address pressing global challenges, companies are setting ambitious goals for their use of forest products. Two such companies – SIG and IKEA – shared their goals and dug into the details of what it takes to meet them in the high-level forum, “FSC in our Daily Lives.”
Opening the session, Samuel Sigrist, SIG’s CFO, explained the company’s ambition to be “net positive,” meaning it would contribute more to society and the environment than it takes out.
As one of the world’s leading suppliers of packaging for the food and beverage industry, SIG has a goal of 100 percent FSC-certified and labelled packaging by 2020. Currently at more than 80% FSC, Sigrist emphasized the importance of having a group of committed people – including senior leaders – driving the initiative from the beginning.
Supplying 33 billion cartons per year, SIG’s scale is massive but it committed to FSC nonetheless. “We made a choice that responsibility is a license to operate and a means to differentiate our products,” Sigrist noted. “It is very clear that FSC is the only credible standard to go with,” he added.
One of the reasons for SIG’s choice was the fact that FSC has the backing of multi-stakeholder groups. “It is true basic democracy that I see here at the GA,” Sigrist explained. To other companies considering commitments to 100 percent FSC, Sigrist said, “the key is to have a bold vision and a bold target. If you have a team together coordinated across the value chain, you are set up for success.”
Ulf Johansson, Global Wood Supply and Forestry Manager for IKEA, took the stage next to describe the company’s drive to “create a better everyday life for many people.” With revenues growing to more than 40 billion Euros across more than 400 stores in the last fiscal year, Johansson explained that “climate change is driving our decisions now.” With that in mind, IKEA has a goal to be climate positive by 2030.
By 2020, the company has a goal of 100 percent of forest materials from “more sustainable sources” – defined as FSC or recycled. IKEA is currently using 76.8 percent, with 100 percent FSC from high-risk countries. For a company that trades in approximately 1 percent of the world’s forest products, IKEA’s scale and accomplishments are significant. Nonetheless, he offered that, “most things still remain to be done,” in a nod to Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA’s founder.
Asked about other forest certifications, Johansson said he constantly monitors other systems, but, “today there are no other systems that are as qualified, with transparency and including stakeholders, in the same way that FSC does.”
As for the path to 100% more sustainable sources, Johansson was clear that fibre board supply in Central Europe was one of their biggest challenges. Today, small and medium-sized forest owners in the region are not yet convinced that FSC is the right way forward, he added.
When asked by moderator, Karin Helmstaedt why IKEA does not use the FSC label on its products, Johansson leaned forward and explained that with only 76 percent FSC now, it could be possible that labelled and un-labelled products would appear side-by-side. “There is lots of internal discussion about this,” he noted.
During the discussion, the presenters were asked what FSC could do to improve. Sigrist asked for FSC’s help with storytelling. “We need FSC to help us by creating stories to explain to consumers what responsibly managed forests are and why people can do something good by picking an FSC-labelled product over the other one,” he said.
Responding to the same question, Johansson asked FSC to move more quickly. “We need to focus and not try to move too many things. We need to understand that we can take a decision without everything being perfect,” he noted.
In closing, both presenters were asked whether they would choose FSC again if they did it over. “No doubt,” answered Sigrist. Saying, “same here,” Johansson added that, “I am now group certified as a forest owner in Sweden. It works very well.”