Choosing FSC-certified products

Many suppliers will tell you, often in good faith, that their supplies are from ‘sustainable’ or ‘managed’ sources, or from plantations. But without credible certification there is often no way to know if products have been sourced responsibly.

FSC certification enables businesses and consumers to choose wood, paper and other forest products made with materials from well-managed forests and/or recycled sources.

 

Choosing toilet roll (c) B. Ealovega / WWF UK
B. Ealovega / WWF UK

Frequently asked questions

  1. How can I tell if a product is FSC certified?

    Many FSC-certified products are easy to identify because they carry an FSC label. But some products, such as those that need to be cut to size, may not. So how can you make sure an unlabelled product is FSC certified?

    • Source from an FSC-certified supplier
    • Check that the certificate is valid using our online database and that it covers the right product category (e.g. 'paper' or 'indoor furniture')
    • Specify FSC-certified materials when placing your order and let your supplier know that you need them to make an FSC claim (e.g. FSC Recycled or FSC 100%) on the sales documents
    • Check that the delivery note and/or invoice clearly identifies the FSC-certified product(s) and FSC claim and includes the supplier’s FSC certificate code (e.g. XX-COC-000000)
  2. How can I make sure that products bought online or by mail-order are FSC certified?

    When shopping online or using a catalogue, it is not usually obvious if a product carries an FSC label - so how can you tell if it's certified?

    Anyone can sell products that have been supplied to them with FSC certification. But only FSC certificate holders and promotional licence holders are authorised to use the FSC trademarks to promote them. 

    To ensure that the products you buy are FSC-certified, choose a supplier with FSC certification or an FSC promotional licence:

    • FSC certificate holders can provide evidence that products are FSC certified in the sales documents that accompany them (make sure to specify FSC when placing your order). Look out for their FSC trademark licence code (FSC-C000000).
    • FSC promotional licence holders can only use the FSC trademarks to promote FSC-labelled products. Any products advertised as FSC certified by a promotional licence holder should carry an FSC label. Look out for their FSC trademark licence code (FSC-N000000)
  3. Timber and panels

    FSC-certified timber, panels and timber products are widely available from leading timber and builders’ merchants, but they don't always carry an FSC label, so how can you ensure that they are FSC certified?

    • Source from an FSC-certified supplier
    • Check that the certificate is valid using our online database and that it covers the right product category (e.g. 'paper' or 'indoor furniture')
    • Specify FSC-certified materials when placing your order and let your supplier know that you need them to make an FSC claim (e.g. FSC Recycled or FSC 100%) on the sales documents
    • Check that the delivery note and/or invoice clearly identifies the FSC-certified product(s) and FSC claim and includes the supplier’s FSC certificate code (e.g. XX-COC-000000)
  4. Printed materials

    You can buy brochures, packaging, posters and other printed materials produced using FSC-certified materials. In order to have an FSC label applied to your printed materials, your printer must be FSC certified. So, how can you make sure that your printed materials are both responsibly sourced and carry an FSC label?

    • Use an FSC-certified printer
    • Check that the certificate is valid using the online database and that it covers the product category (e.g. ''business cards' or 'wallpapers' or 'printed materials'
    • Specify FSC-certified materials from the outset and request that the printer apply the appropriate FSC label
    • Ensure any supplementary text about FSC is approved by the printer’s FSC-accredited certification body
    • Check that the delivery note and/or invoice clearly identifies the FSC-certified products and includes the supplier’s FSC certificate code (e.g. XX-COC-000000)
  5. Procurement policies

    A forest product procurement policy is a good way to ensure everyone in your organisation knows what timber, paper and other forest products are acceptable for use. It can also help businesses to make and meet Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) targets. But, what should it include?

    A good procurement policy should specify exactly what it covers e.g. does it just cover timber and/or paper or does it also cover other forest products such as bamboo or natural rubber?

    It should also make clear how to ensure compliance with the policy, what certifications are accepted and what to do if potential purchases do not meet the requirements.

    To ensure compliance, the application of the policy should be monitored and regularly quantified, allowing any areas of concern to be highlighted and addressed. 

  6. Tenders

    If you are inviting tenders that include a requirement for FSC-certified materials, it is important to ensure that suppliers are aware of the requirement that both the product and the company themselves (not just their supplier) must be FSC-certified, to maintain the FSC chain of custody. 

    Those tendering for projects requiring the use of FSC-certified materials should ensure that they hold FSC certification. This will enable them to provide the appropriate evidence of FSC certification to their contracting organisation.

Tools and templates for businesses

Available from FSC UK (free of charge for UK certificate holders) is a pocket-sized checklist to support you in checking deliveries of FSC-certified materials. A .pdf version can be downloaded below, or contact FSC UK to request printed z-cards. 

The template procurement policies below may also be a good starting or reference point for your own.

FSC Delivery Checklist
PDF, Size: 245.72KB
Private Sector Procurement Policy Template
PDF, Size: 374.10KB
Public Sector Procurement Policy Template
PDF, Size: 380.09KB

It's got to be FSC: A guide for businesses buying and specifying FSC-certified materials

How Consumers Can Ensure Responsible Management of Tropical Forests with FSC

Tropical forests are home to two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity, including thousands of different tropical tree species – and it’s our responsibility to preserve them. Watch this video to learn more about how as a consumer, you can do your part by choosing FSC-certified timber and products with the FSC logo.