Five or six years ago, an FSC certification was a huge differentiator, but today, with papers that contain virgin fibre, such certification is considered the norm.
Back then, paper merchants would argue that ‘recycled’ didn’t necessarily mean ‘environmentally friendly’, and it was more about the ‘process’ than the make-up of the paper.
However, the recycled argument is now back and stronger than ever, albeit from a more sophisticated standpoint. Whereas five years ago, printers might have been indifferent to (perhaps ignorant of) the breakdown between post- and pre-consumer waste, and just wanted to know the total recycled percentage in a paper. Today, they ask more probing questions and demand higher post-consumer waste content, while still wanting whiteness to be maintained. Essentially they’re demanding a high level of post-consumer waste (such as newspapers and magazines) plus the comfort of knowing that, whatever the residual content of virgin fibre, it comes from managed and sustainable forests.
This much was well covered by contributors to a feature in this magazine last year (PPM June 2013). This month’s article reviews further developments in the last nine months – not only on the paper front, but also among label substrate suppliers, and even purveyors of cellulose-based flexible films.
Labelstock certification for UPM Raflatac
First contribution comes from UPM Raflatac. The company has achieved FSC and PEFC CoC (Chain of Custody) certifications for a range of labelstock produced at its Malaysia factory and for its slitting and distribution operations in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. This means that all UPM Raflatac factories in the Asia-Pacific region are now PEFC and FSC certified. This is a significant milestone towards UPM Raflatac’s aim to supply products that are sustainable over their lifecycles, and to increase the range of eco-labelled products.
‘We’ve seen demand rising for FSC and PEFC certified products and are proud to be able to supply these materials to our customers,’ comments Jouni Komulainen, general manager, UPM Raflatac Southeast Asia. ‘A clear CoC is also crucial to retailers. They can underline their sustainability credentials to consumers, who in turn can make responsible buying decisions,’ he adds.
On the local front, UPM Raflatac’s country manager, Lee Unsworth, picks up on this CoC issue.
‘We became CoC certified in South Africa in 2012. Before that, we obviously couldn’t sell PEFC or FSC certified materials in this country. Even if material was brought in with the raw material components certified, the chain was broken and therefore the FSC/PEFC claim couldn’t be made. However, all that has changed now that we’re CoC certified,’ Lee adds.
‘In 2012, 13.3% of our paper sales were sold with either PEFC or FSC certification, and during 2013, 63.1% of our sales were certified. We expect the figure to be even higher in 2014.’
The South African certification fits in well with UPM’s commitment to environmental leadership which is underlined by the fact that UPM was chosen as the only forestry company worldwide in the Dow Jones sustainability index for 2012-2013 and is used as in index component for both the Europe and World Sustainability Index.
UPM is committed to environmental sustainability through its ‘Biofore’ business strategy.
Paarl Media invests to limit environmental impact
Looking at the matter from a printer’s point of view, Paarl Media’s Christoff Botha adds to the debate.
‘As responsible paper sourcing has always been part of Paarl Media’s environmentally-aware culture, it was a quick process to have all the required documentation and audits in place to receive FSC certification,’ he comments. ‘But this is only one step towards operating in an environmental-responsible manner and we’re continually investing to limited our impact on the environment by reducing waste, recycling, emission control and energy saving (electricity and LPG) projects,’ he adds.
Underlining this commitment, he reveals that Paarl Media’s investments in these measures tally to well over R100-million. The Paarl Media team believes ‘green paper’ is only green if the process of converting paper into books, magazine or other printed media mirrors the paper manufacturing process.
‘We can proudly say that we’re the most advanced and responsible printing company in South Africa, adhering to European and US environmental and emission regulations,’ Christoff continues.
‘Of course, we’re aware of the debate around the various green paper certifications, with the underlining truth that all offer assurance of paper sourced from well-managed forests. But to show a true commitment to sustainable sourcing, we’re now embarking on a process to add PEFC certification to our FSC certification – giving our customers further peace of mind when printing with us.’
Initially, PEFC implementation will take place at Paarl Media Cape, with a further roll-out to another 11 plants nationally.
After months of scrupulous preparation, Graphica Supplies has acquired full FSC and CoC certification.
Cellulose film also in the net
Innovia Films’ Wigton site in the UK has now obtained FSC and PEFC CoC certification, providing assurance that wood pulp used in cellulose film production comes from responsible, traceable sources.
Says Ian Robinson, procurement director: ‘Customers worldwide are increasingly interested in the origin of the raw materials in the products they buy. In the case of our cellulose films business, wood pulp is the principal raw material employed and this certification is a major step towards being able to prove it originates from responsibly-managed forests.’
Graphica attains FSC approval
‘As a leading supplier of premium-grade covering materials to the stationery, publishing, printing, luxury goods and promotional packaging sectors, we’re actively involved in sourcing materials from FSC and CoC-certified forests,’ comments Graphica’s MD and co-owner, Simon Grose.
‘Our long-time partner, Winter &Company, has been certified for some time,’ he continues, ‘so it was a natural progression for us to complete the chain. This certainly confirms our commitment to a solid environmental policy and I’m glad we can convey the good news to the many brand owners and printers who utilise our materials.’
For a list of Graphica’s FSC-approved materials, visit www.graphica.co.za.
WWF and Mondi sustain ecosystems
WWF and Mondi are working together in a three-year strategic partnership that focuses on increasing environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sectors.
The partnership, which links one of the largest packaging, pulp and paper producers in the world with the world’s largest conservation organisation, sends a strong signal – addressing environmental sustainability makes good business sense.
The partnership will focus on minimising the impacts of Mondi’s operations on forests, climate and water, and encouraging sustainable practices in the industry.
The work programme covers three main areas:
• Ecosystem Stewardship – building on the successful Mondi Wetlands Programme in South Africa, this work will focus on protecting high conservation value ecosystems in Russia and other regions and increasing the value and resilience of multi-functional production landscapes in South Africa.
• Manufacturing Stewardship – further reducing the water and climate footprint of Mondi’s operations and promoting resource efficiency, recycling and longevity of products, including the cascading use of wood and forest products where appropriate.
• Product Stewardship – further enhancing the environmental performance of Mondi’s products through credible certification and efficient life-cycle use of materials in its paper and packaging products.
‘As population grows and competition for land increases, forest-based industries that rely on renewable resources can play an important role in protecting and managing vital ecosystems,’ says Jim Leape, director general of WWF International. ‘Companies like Mondi that choose to contribute to sustainable resource use and nature conservation are ensuring their own long-term viability, while contributing to the well-being of people and the planet today.’
Adds David Hathorn, Mondi group CEO, ‘Sustainable development is integral to our business, and we’re pleased to be working with WWF as we continue to reduce our footprint and share responsible practices across our industry and beyond.’
Avery Dennison expands FSC-certified label portfolio
In Europe, Avery Dennison is expanding its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified portfolio of paper label materials.
Since the beginning of this year, Avery Dennison’s has added more than 50 new FSC-certified label materials to its product portfolio for the European market.
The portfolio now totals more than 150 different constructions, with more expected before the end of the year, featuring core facestocks used in labelling applications for the food, wine, spirits and dairy sectors.