FSC Regulatory Paperwork Getting Stricter Each Year? You Betcha!

Learn How To Stay Ahead of the Paper Trail!

As more and more people become adept to wanting to “Go Green”, the industry guidelines and regulations have become more rigid. Both public and private sectors of the industry are desiring certified wood products on their new construction projects- as well as their renovations. It’s our duty as experts in the industry to stay atop the ever changing “rules” that govern these product distributions. It’s not as simple as finding a vendor, ordering and reselling the materials—it’s knowing the exact mix of materials, your certification information, as well as how to go about finding it!

What is the FSC?

FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Counsel. Established in 1993, this non-profit organization sets the standards, certifications and labeling requirements for the world’s forests.

The FSC offers three different types of certifications:

  • Chain of Custody (the majority of distributors have this certification)- this type of certification applies to manufacturers, processors and traders of FSC certified forest products. It verifies FSC certified material and products along the production chain.
  • Forest Management- this type of certification is given to the forest owners or managers for using best practices and meet required criteria of the FSC forest management.
  • Controlled Wood- this type of certification is designed to allow organizations to avoid the categories of wood considered unacceptable. FSC Controlled Wood can only be mixed with FSC certified wood in labelled FSC Mix products.

As of 25 September 2015:

184.839 million ha of certified forests worldwide

(one hectare “ha” equivalents to about 2.47 acres)

29,532 Chain of Custody certificates

1,346 ForestMgmt/Chain of Custody certificates

I sit here and blog of FSC “nonsense”, because I feel the pains of the paper-pushers today. Years ago, while employed with a distributor, I was responsible for billing customers, contractors and owners on construction projects for their certified wood products. Supplier invoices and details needed to match up exactly to the billings to our customers; and, frankly, it was a tedious, undesirable part of my job. Being away from the distribution side of the industry, I have not had to keep tabs on the strict requirements that have tightened over the past few years.

In speaking with clients, employees are having to spend more and more hours to detail their paperwork in order to pass their FSC audits. First, you get your customer advising of the certification requirements for the building, then you hunt down the few suppliers in this industry that even want to mess with FSC products, then you get quotes and estimated mixed rates. Of which, will most likely change by the time the actual products ship to you, requiring you to go back in and detail your jobs with the EXACT mixed percentages. For example, one wood door may be 95.27% certified mix, where the next door (looking IDENTICAL to the one in front of your face) may only be a 89.22%. Who notices? Probably absolutely NO ONE. Who cares? You’d be surprised!

I sense a bit of irony on our world’s forest preservations as well. All of these newly tightened regulations have forced members, managers, and distributors to process more paperwork, provide more proof, and……waste more paper! During FSC audits, you can’t show the assessor PDF scans of your documentation; no, they want the real thing– on printed paper. To me, it’s a horse a piece. You want me to prove that I am “Part of the Solution” and doing my part to preserve the world’s forests, but you want me to give you a year’s worth of printed paperwork- of which will most likely get tossed the minute you’re done inspecting me? Doesn’t seem to really make sense, does it?

If there are so many regulations (and extra paperwork) today, then why are distributors pushing FSC product?

It’s simple; consumers want it! Today’s social norm is to be environmentally conscience, and everyone is expected to do their part in protecting the world. “Going Green” is the new thing and you see many government offices using these practices in construction. SUSTAINABILITY is sweeping the nation.

How does an organization become certified?

It’s simpler than you think, actually, and the certification lasts for FIVE YEARS! Three easy steps can get you on your way to supplying certified wood products to consumers:

Why should you become certified? Being an FSC certified distributor propels you to the next social and environmental standard in today’s world.

Lindsay, a graduate of Metropolitan State University, resides in Minnesota with her two sons where she lives, works, and blogs at the intersection of technology and construction. Jump on board and follow her explorations; you never know where she’s taking you next!