Green Printing

FSC, FSI Battle It Out Over Sustainable Forests

Is this the end of sustainable forestry initiatives?

Wow, I didn't think I'd be posting about green printing again so soon, but here we go! There's trouble brewing in the old sustainable forest…

As you might know – being the loyal printing blog reader that you are – one of the biggest priorities that a green printer focuses on is achieving tri-certification. Tri-certification is all about preserving our country's – and our planet's – forests. (Yup, this all comes back to sustainability).

One of the most important things being done to green our industry has been a commitment to using paper made from trees that were logged by companies who take provable steps to replace what they harvest. There is an entire chain of custody that must be entirely transparent in order to prove that the paper coming out of our printers can be traced back to a tree that was harvested from a certifiably sustainable forestry project.

Tri-certification, for a printer, means that the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) have all approved a facility's printing practices as being in line with an ecologically mindful approach to preserving the world's forests. Not surprising, this tri-certification is tough to get, and it sure ain't cheap.

That being the case, it's been hard to watch the organizations that we're supposed to be taking our lead from being torn apart by controversy over the last few months. First, ForestEthics filed complaints against SFI for greenwashing and tax fraud. Now, the Coalition for Fair Forest Certification (which is rumored to count SFI amongst its members) has filed similar complaints against the FSC.

Speculation is that forest sustainability initiatives have been losing momentum over the last few years, and that this fallout is the result. Of course, as much as this affects the printing industry, the construction, architecture, and publishing sectors are hit just as hard. And as disappointing as all this infighting is, it's even worse to imagine that the complaints are true, and that all this certification business has been nothing more than another cashgrab disguised as concern for the environment.

What do you think? Are sustainable forestry initiatives just a bunch of greenhouse gas? And if so, how should the printing industry respond?

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