Raw materials for all generations – certificates of sustainable forestry

Stefan Riedl01/09/2020

Wood is the raw material for paper and cardboard, which is just what a lot of product packaging is mostly made of. Forests are the place where this raw material is produced. The availability of this resource is therefore of vital importance for the packaging industry, so it only makes sense to support sustainable use of wood as a raw material. The FSC label stands for sustainable management of forests and wood as a resource. It’s a hallmark of a conscientious packaging company. Products are certified in accordance with the guidelines of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and specially marked, so that consumers can check if the raw material meets FSC guidelines for sustainability and then make their consumption decisions accordingly.

Sustainable forest management

Sustainable forest management is a tradition that goes back quite a way. In the middle ages, intensive use resulted in the destruction of forests. This led to the birth of the “take only as much as regrows” concept. This way, the forest would be preserved as a resource for future generations. These days, social and ecological elements have been added to the philosophy. To make these sustainable management practices more comprehensible, verifiable, legally binding and easier to convey, in the mid-1990s, international certification systems were brought into being. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) was founded in October 1993 and has now more than 1,000 members. Some forest administration agencies and forestry operations in other countries now have developed their own certification systems. Moreover, there is the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes).

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Certifications in forestry

Forestry companies that want their woods to be certified have to commit to various principles of sustainable forestry and have their compliance with these standards documented and verified. After that, the company’s products are stamped with the organization’s quality label. The paper and cardboard manufacturing industry can then likewise apply the label to their own products, as can all the downstream processing industries. This “chain of custody” certification is important since it lets consumers know which products are made from certified raw materials, thus influencing the market. For products that are not of 100 % certified origin, there are also combined markings, e.g. indicating the proportion of certified raw materials.

How an ERP program supports your certification landscape

From an ERP standpoint, certification comes with a few considerations and requirements. First, all certified products have to be tracked by batches, and the corresponding material receipts and issues have to be documented. The batches have to be labeled in a way that they can be identified, and these IDs also have to be recorded in the warehouse stock and in every transaction. The certification information needs to be printed on all labels and tags and must be applied as a scannable barcode. Another important aspect is the documentation of certified batches in multi-stage production processes. The ERP system has to be able to track the certified materials throughout all manufacturing stages and calculate the quantity and percentage. This ensures that all certified quantities are consistently traceable. Where such detailed tracking is not possible, e.g. for production-related reasons (e.g. large-scale pulp production,) it is still possible to at least correctly certify the total quantity (80% certified material as input means an 80% certified product as output).

Product information

The industry solution ccIprint and packaging contains a number of industry-related processes and specialities of this industry. It is based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. 

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The packaging industry produces many products that are inexpensive and often have a very short life cycle yet have to perform very special functions. For this reason, the use of sustainable materials is a convincing argument in favor of the purchase decision. Today, a lot of plastic packaging is being replaced by other raw materials. These new raw materials are often paper and cardboard. Manufacturers are especially interested in packaging products made of sustainably produced raw materials, because these products allow manufacturers to verifiably document that they are meeting the consumer demand for eco-friendly products.

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Stefan Riedl
Partner Manager / Presales Consultant | COSMO CONSULT SI GmbH