Beautiful Forest

Today I Learned: Forest Stewardship Council-Part 1

Today, being sustainable and eco-friendly is something that consumers are starting to demand of the business they support, and more and more companies are catching on to this need. It’s common these days to see companies promote their sustainability campaigns and boast about them in their marketing material.

But with so much noise around sustainability, it’s getting harder for people to know whether a business is truly committed to green, eco-friendly practices and taking real action or if they’re merely greenwashing.

That is why businesses that are genuinely working to be sustainable are turning to independent third-party certifications to prove to the consumer that their practices are sound from an environmental perspective.

Having certified corporate sustainability practices can also attract potential investors and put companies ahead of their competitors. They are stating their values aloud and showing stakeholders that they’re willing to invest in them.

What is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)?

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit international organization founded in 1993 by the environmental community. It was conceived after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the “Earth Summit” held in Rio de Janeiro the previous year.

Their mission statement is to “promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.

The FSC has developed several tools to support in achieving its mission.

  • They’ve established a clear set of agreed principles that reflect sustainable forest management practices.
  • They developed a certification system that confirms when a forest complies with the FSC standards.
  • The FSC logo has enabled a product labeling system that verifies that the wood comes from a responsibly managed source, giving consumers confidence.

These tools empower consumers to make better informed, more sustainable choices, and they help businesses meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and achieve recognition for their environmental initiatives.

Through their actions, FSC works towards fighting climate change. Their work both promotes sustainable forest management practices and the use of recycled wood materials. This way, they want to ensure that the role of forests as natural net removers of CO2 from the atmosphere is protected to make progress towards net-zero emissions.

What are the benefits of working with the FSC?

The FSC doesn’t sell or distribute products itself, but it does certify companies to independent standards for responsible forestry.

The environmental benefits of buying FSC-certified wood are clear. Less destruction of forests and wildlife habitats; more sustainable use of natural resources; strong protection for workers, local communities, and indigenous rights.

Forests are home to many animals that help create a balanced ecosystem. The FSC helps protect biodiversity through its conservation policies which ensure that forest management can preserve critical habitats while still meeting economic needs.

And they are also known for being strong on sustainable social policies, including democratic decision-making with the people most affected by the land, fair wages and safe working conditions, and respect for human rights.

What is the FSC logo?

To bring awareness to sustainable forestry management practices, the council developed an easily recognizable standard that consumers would be able to look for and use when deciding which wood products are both environmentally friendly and responsibly sourced.

Their logo has become recognized worldwide as a symbol of responsible forestry practices, good corporate citizenship, and environmental stewardship. It certifies that the product comes from an FSC-certified forest. This means that the forest is responsibly managed, it’s being restored, and the environment is being preserved or enhanced for the local communities.

It’s hard to find a more widely recognized symbol in the world of eco-friendly initiatives than that of the FSC logo.

The strength of this symbol lies in the fact that thanks to its long history and solid reputation, it provides both businesses and consumers alike with confidence that products with the logo are made responsibly without compromising on quality or social responsibility.

This way, consumers can really choose to spend their money on companies that create products through sound business practices, thus creating a sustainable future.

And for retailers and manufacturers, using the FSC logo on their products gives them credibility as an environmentally responsible company. This can provide them with an advantage over their competition, especially as consumers now demand that companies take full responsibility for their supply chain sourcing and communicate it transparently.

The FSC recognition is not limited to products sold to end consumers. Businesses also can collaborate with the FSC and have their forests or projects certified to use the FSC trademarks to promote them.

Wood On the Web: Dovetail Partners

This month, Nature’s Packaging has found another great web-based resource for you that demonstrates the versatility in the forest industry and the opportunities it creates for employment, sustainability initiatives, economic knowledge, and government policy.

Our focus this month is on Dovetail Partners website (www.dovetailinc.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to collaboration, problem-solving, and job creation in industries related to forest resources and wood-based products.

The Dovetail Partners Mission

Dovetail Partners are all about collaboration. Their model is to work with individuals and organizations to create new and interesting ideas, systems, models, and programs that address the decisions and impacts regarding governmental and corporate policies, use of land, and consumption choices. They also work to build programs that encourage job creation and affect job quality in resource-based industries like forest management and forest products.

Dovetail Services

Dovetail provides a range of services to organizations that really help with everything from ideation of topics to project management to data collection:

  • Idea Development – develop ideas to reach desired outcomes.
  • Project Management – team, skills, and knowledge to keep projects on track.
  • Data Collection – seek the science available to address an issue and leverage expertise and network to fill the gaps.
  • Analysis – analysis of data and information to help present a clear picture of the outcome.
  • Report Development – organizing the ideas, data, and analysis into a document that effectively communicates the desired outcomes.
  • Outreach – deliver products meant to inspire, encouraging thoughtful work into the future.

Dovetail Projects

Dovetail Partners have completed a wide variety of reports across many different sectors of industry. All of these reports are available for download at their website https://www.dovetailinc.org/portfolio.php.

Some of the most relevant to the forest products industries include:

Global Forest Resources and Timber Trade

The report is an analysis of forest resources at global level, from both supply and demand perspectives (raw material supply, trade, processing/production, consumption). The report is global in scope but focuses on the United States primarily due to audience. It includes great breakdowns of the tropical and boreal timber markets with easy-to-understand graphics and data. It ends with market trends and how political policy worldwide is impacting trade and the markets.

An Introduction to the Circular Economy

This report defines the circular economy according to the UNECE definition (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). It is a system of production and consumption, which minimizes waste, optimizes the resources used with minimal pollution, regenerates natural capital, creates opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship, and reshapes production and consumption from a life cycle and recycling perspective. The report gives examples of how it is being applied in the natural and forest resource industries sector and the opportunities created by its application.

Carbon Storage, Credit Markets, and Forests

This Dovetail report is centered on the carbon credits generated by operations in the forest resources industries, the markets that have been created and new ones developing, and how the market generally operates from source to asset. While the framework is global in nature, the report focuses on the United States in particular. It also does a great job of delineating the voluntary and regulatory markets and how they differ in scope and development.

Why Wood Pallets and Containers

Here at Nature’s Packaging, our goal is to keep you informed about the forces that will have a political and economic impact on our industry. These are subjects and topics that are being discussed, explored, and implemented by whole industries and large organizations that are customers of the wooden pallet and container industry. We must remain informed with credible, relevant data and information that allows us to remain “at the table” and even expand our capabilities to align with these initiatives. The Life Cycle Assessment is a great start, but we must do more or we will be replaced by better marketing.

Wood for the W.I.N. – Carbon Accounting

There is a huge market gathering around carbon and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s). Governments are being pressured by the public to address climate change and global warming, and very soon regulation and the monetization of carbon offsets will create an asset tradeable marketplace that will classify a price for it.

As you read this post there are numerous bills in the US Congress being proposed to put a price tag on carbon. This prospective legislation, along with other cap and trade proposals, are the foundation of a new paradigm in the world economy. Imagine carbon offsets as the tradeable asset and a model price at around $100 dollars per metric ton. These are very real numbers based on existing frameworks in the EU system. Let’s break it down for the United States.

In 2020, the United States is estimated to have generated ~5.16 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. At the $100 per ton number that represents a VERY LARGE number, and about 2.5% of the total estimated US GDP for 2020. That is also accounting for the effect of the pandemic on the US economy.

Who is accountable for all of these emissions you ask? All of the companies in the US, and in the larger frame, the world. Now you can begin to grasp why the C-suite is concerned, and why companies are in a blitz of marketing and green policy initiatives.

In this exclusive Nature’s Packaging post, we dive into What’s Important Now (W.I.N.) for the wooden pallet and container industry by examining a methodology called “Carbon Accounting” that companies and organizations around the world are utilizing to assess their greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon Accounting 101

Carbon accounting, also known as greenhouse gas accounting, is an approach and process designed to audit and provide an assessment of the company’s carbon “footprint”, which is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced by the company both directly and indirectly.

Carbon accounting measures the emissions produced by a certain business activities and processes. It quantifies the amount of output from the use of fossil fuels, agricultural practices, industrial production, various supply chain operations, and other indirect processes. The data and information generated from an account and inventory of emissions becomes the framework that a company utilizes to further manage their climate change impact and determine possible strategies to mitigate that impact going forward.

In terms of reporting, many countries have regulatory agencies that require companies to report their emissions. In the US, this would be part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP)

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a guideline created by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in partnership with the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD). Many companies around the world have adopted the GHGP as it provides accounting and reporting specifications, guidance appropriate to different industries, tools for calculation, and training for businesses and government entities.

The GHGP provides a standardized framework for measuring and managing emissions from both public and private sector companies and organizations. Additionally, an accounting protocol for emissions created from logistics operations was established in 2016 by a newly formed council. It was established in collaboration with the World Resources Institute, and it is known as the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework.

Emission Scope

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol divides emissions into 3 Scopes. Companies measure and set goals to reduce emission based on the framework of these Scopes:

Scope 1

This scope is based on all the direct GHG emissions by a company. These are emissions that created by resources owned or controlled by the company. These include GHG’s produced from fuel combustion in assets like vehicles, boilers, and furnaces.

Scope 2

Scope 2 refers to indirect GHG emissions from consumption of utility purchases like electricity, heat, cooling or steam. These emissions occur outside any company’s actual facilities as a result of utility usage and are considered an indirect source of emissions.

The Corporate Standard is an accounting and reporting standard provided by the GHG Protocol that gives guidance on how an organization can calculate and inventory its Scope 2 emissions. The standard is designed to ensure consistent methodology and transparency of results between organizations around the world.

Scope 3

Scope 3 contains other types of indirect emissions that can be the largest source of GHG emissions for an organization and represent up to 90% of the total carbon footprint. Scope 3 sources include emissions that occur both upstream and downstream of the organization’s activities, as in supply chain and logistics operations. This upstream/downstream activity constitutes the organization’s full value chain in creation of its products and/or services.

Scope 3 includes 15 overall categories:

  1. Purchased Goods and Services
  2. Capital Goods
  3. Fuel- and Energy-Related Activities Not Included in Scope 1 or 2
  4. Upstream Transportation and Distribution
  5. Waste Generated in Operations
  6. Business Travel
  7. Employee Commuting
  8. Upstream Leased Assets
  9. Downstream Transportation and Distribution
  10. Processing of Sold Products
  11. Use of Sold Products
  12. End-of-Life Treatment of Sold Products
  13. Downstream Leased Assets
  14. Franchises
  15. Investments

Corporate Sustainability & You

Scopes 1 & 2 mentioned above are the starting points for any business and generally are the easiest to assess and reform as they are the closest to day-to-day operations. They can include anything from changing out lighting systems in buildings to promote savings on electricity costs, implementing new HVAC systems and filtration, utilizing new control software that maximizes the efficiency processes in building maintenance systems, to using “green” vehicles.

Scopes 1&2 are the ‘proof of concept’ phase in most cases as a company ramps into a sustainability program across the entire organization. However, companies also have to account for Scope 3 emissions in order to achieve and claim successes. The difficulties in Scope 3 accountability are directly related to the above-mentioned value chain that include suppliers and customers as part of the framework.

Many companies are embracing the GHG protocol and it’s variants like the GLEC Framework and the Corporate Standard. In example, Walmart has launched it Project Gigaton which aims to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030. Pepsico has incorporated the Pepsico Positive program to address their sustainability initiatives.

Both companies are customers of the pallet industry and we exist in their value chains. Additionally, there are many other companies in a multitude of industries that need and use pallets to move their goods through the supply chain. The Pallet Foundation provides numerous resources like the Environmental Product Declaration and the Landfill Avoidance Study as excellent reference documents that help inform customers how well the wooden container and pallet industry aligns with the sustainability efforts of these organizations.

It is critical that companies in the wooden pallet and container industry continue to fund, promote, and align themselves with these corporate sustainability efforts. As an industry, we must have a solid grasp of the various GHG protocols, carbon accounting, and sustainability initiatives because it exponentially multiplies the value of your company in the value chain of the customer companies we service. We must connect and understand what’s important to them now.

 

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