Chlorine Free Paper Issues


What content standards are necessary for a paper to be labeled as "made from sustainably harvested fibers"?

LISTENING STUDY: Several responses reference Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) content standards although some indicate that these guidelines are insufficient.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines provide much-needed international standards and legitimacy to the sustainable forestry movement. They also raise some reasonable concerns. Old-growth harvesting can still take place under exceptional conditions, though according to various sources, it is doubtful that certified foresters would sell such valuable resources for paper. In addition, current standards require that papers labeled FSC contain 25 to 100 percent virgin wood fibers, of which only 70 percent has to be FSC certified. That means as much as 30 percent of virgin wood fibers could be harvested within streamside protection zones, on steep hillsides, or using other unsustainable practices. Richard Donovan, an FSC certifier, acknowledges these shortcomings, but believes that "the intent of FSC is to move things in a better direction, and the 70 percent threshold was an important and necessary step in getting the program established." When buying an FSC paper, find out the exact amount of certified pulp it contains. - Imhoff 1999

Currently, FSC certification for the percentage of paper or paper products that is composed of virgin fiber is the only widely accepted international certification program among independent environmental advocacy groups. - Victoria Mills, Project Manager, Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense

The label should state the percent of "sustainably harvested" as well as percent post-consumer recycled. The standard should be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or equivalent. Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is still weak in biodiversity. - Robert R. Bryan, Forest Ecologist, Maine Audubon

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a leader in establishing content standards. We would like to see 100% of all paper to be from alternative fibres and FSC-certified forests. - Susan Hammond, Executive Director, Silva Forest Foundation

LISTENING STUDY: Another response references Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) content standards to designate sustainably harvested fibers.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) has addressed the question of content standards by releasing labels that can be placed on products to let consumers know that they are purchasing a sustainably manufactured product. For example, a primary manufacturing company can use the SFI label on their products if 50% or more of the product's material is SFI certified. More information about the SFI standard is available online at: Environment_and_Recycling/SFI/SFI.htm - International Paper

LISTENING STUDY: Other responses do not specify a particular certification scheme.

No clearcuts, selective harvesting, limited roads, endangered and threatened forests never touched. - Frank Locantore, Co-op America

The content standards vary depending on the label being used. They generally require a certain percentage of content coming from a forest certified to that forest certification standard. - Stora Enso


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