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FSC® cardboard boxes – 15 reasons your business should use them

Last Updated 6th September 2021
Posted In: Environment | Guides & Advice

FSC Cardboard Boxes / Packaging

15 compelling reasons to use cardboard boxes manufactured from FSC certified material

Put simply, consumer behaviour is changing. Shoppers – purchasing in store or (more frequently) online – are demanding more and more sustainable products. This is now extending to the packaging these goods are supplied in, too.

Switching to FSC cardboard boxes is obviously one method to help satisfy your customers’ requirements for lessened environmental impact. But is that enough?

This guide sets out 15 key benefits of switching to FSC certified packaging, to your business, the environment, and lives of people who rely on forests for their livelihood (and even their way of life).

It covers:

  • What the FSC is, how it works, and what products can be FSC certified
  • Sustainability benefits
  • Socio economic benefits (particularly to local communities)
  • Direct advantages to your business (in terms of sales, customer retention etc.)

Please continue reading to find out more.

Quick Reference / Contents

Introduction

What is FSC?

Before highlighting the benefits of using FSC cardboard boxes, it is important to first provide some background as to what the FSC is, how it operates, and which products can be certified.

The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is essentially an international, not-for-profit membership organisation, both supervising and promoting sustainable forest management globally.

It was established in Toronto in 1993 with the initial aim of preventing deforestation of the Amazonian rainforest. However, it quickly expanded to incorporate environmental and human rights organisations and forest owners from 26 different countries.

15 reasons to use FSC cardboard boxes
There are a wide number of reasons to switch to FSC cardboard boxes at your business

Today, FSC sets the best practices in terms of sustainable forest management which meet the needs of environmental, social, and economic stakeholders. The principles it promotes guarantee responsibly produced wood and paper for consumers around the world, although FSC® itself neither produces nor sells goods.

Growing from around 45 million hectares 15 years ago, there are now more than 200 million hectares of forest throughout 86 countries that are managed by FSC (an area approximately 20% of the size of Europe).

How it works

So how does FSC promote and enforce these practices?

Well, forests are inspected and certified against a set of strict criteria / standards based on FSC’s “Principles of Forest Stewardship”. These inspections are undertaken by independent organisations.

Forests must be managed in an environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable manner to achieve FSC certification. The timber and products manufactured from it (including papers, cardboard etc.) are then allowed to carry the FSC® label.

what does FSC do
There are a wide number of products that can be FSC certified, including corrugated packaging

What products (besides FSC cardboard boxes) can be FSC certified?

There is a wide and diverse range of products that can be certified by FSC (and in turn, carry the branding / labelling).

This includes, but is not limited to, products made of wood fibre, charcoal, flooring, decking, paper, DIY and building materials, furniture and, of course, packaging. Even some jewellery can be FSC certified!

Sticking with packaging however, being FSC certified (Chain of Custody Certificate No. C161914) means GWP can provide a huge range of corrugated packaging that is FSC accredited. This not only includes FSC cardboard boxes, but also ecommerce packaging, heavy duty transit packs, retail and shelf ready units, POS, and even specialist items such as spools.

FSC ecommerce boxes
A huge range of packaging products can be FSC certified - everything from transit and ecommerce boxes through to decorative point of sale stands

15 Reasons to use FSC Cardboard boxes

Why should you use FSC certified packaging at your business?

Having covered what the FSC is, briefly explained how it works, and what products can be FSC certified, the next step is to highlight the key reasons why your business should be using FSC cardboard boxes and packaging.

The 15 reasons detailed below can be split into 3 different categories, these being sustainability / environmental benefits, socio economic benefits, and direct advantages to the businesses using them.

So, without further ado, please see below for the 15 reasons you should at least consider (and in all likelihood switch to) FSC cardboard boxes.

Sustainability

  • Sustainable management of forests
  • CO2 reduction
  • Traceability of material
  • Endorsements by major charities / organisations

Social

  • Preserving Indigenous people’s lifestyles
  • Fair wages and supporting local economies
  • Production in accordance with laws etc
  • Building of schools and amenities
  • Conservation of habitat / natural environment

Sustainability

  • Satisfying consumer demands (and driving sales)
  • Brand perception and positioning
  • Promotion and marketing
  • Guarantee of sustainability
  • No additional costs
  • CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)

01: Sustainability

How FSC promotes sustainability

Please see below for the following reasons – focused on sustainability – that your business should use FSC certified packaging.

Sustainable management of forests

Put simply, in an FSC® managed forest no more trees are felled than the forest can manage to reproduce. What this means in practice is that only a predetermined section of any given forest can be cut down, and that trees are replanted.

This in turn ensures protection for the flora and fauna that make up the natural environment of the area. It also enables the other benefits provided by the forest to be maintained over many years, rather than just over the short term (as typically happens with illegal logging).

CO2 reduction

Careful management of forests – such as that enforced by FSC – can also have a significant impact on CO2 levels.

Whilst a tree is growing, it absorbs more CO2 than it releases through respiration. It then reaches a stable level (at which respiration and photosynthesis become carbon neutral), before becoming old and decaying. In this final stage – if the tree is allowed to be full broken down by nature – it will release all of the absorbed CO2 back into the atmosphere.

By managing the felling and planting of trees, it can enable forests to continue absorbing more CO2 than they produce.

FSC forests reduce CO2
FSC managed forests can help to reduce CO2 levels

Traceability of material

Another key tenet of the FSC’s approach is that of traceability.

Implementing a chain of custody means that all parties involved in the selling and processing of FSC material – everyone from forest owners, producers, wholesalers and more – are responsible for the traceability of FSC certified products.

This effectively ensures that the products sold as FSC® certified can be traced all the way from the tree in the forest to the final product sold to the consumer.

CoC certified companies such as GWP Packaging, must always be able to prove that they separate FSC® certified materials and materials from other sources during production and storage. Ultimately, it means your business and customers can be certain the packaging they are using is FSC certified.

Supported by Global Charities

The stringent methods and controls put in place by FSC means that it is the only responsible forestry scheme that is endorsed by all of the global wildlife and environmental charities.

This includes support from WWF, Greenpeace, Forests of the World, and many others.

02: Social Benefits

Socio economic benefits of FSC

So, besides the environmental benefits associated with using FSC cardboard boxes (and products in general), what are the social benefits of the scheme? Please read below for further info.

Preserving Indigenous people’s lifestyles

One of the key considerations of the FSC is that interests and lifestyles of indigenous people are preserved, and that they are not exposed to any danger resulting from commercial activities.

Besides this, indigenous peoples’ rights to use the forests as they did before are maintained, as well as being fully involved in the management of the forests. This means that, for example, sacred grounds and hunting grounds are exempt from felling.

Fair wages and supporting local economies

Besides maintaining the way of life of indigenous people, FSC supports local communities in other ways too.

For example, fair pay / wages and working conditions are guaranteed throughout the supply chain. Any individuals working in the forests are also entitled to training, safety equipment, and have the right to join or form trade unions. Local labour is always used where possible.

Ultimately, the FSC ensures that local populations benefit from the forest revenues.

FSC certified boxes local economy
Using FSC cardboard boxes will help local communities (including job creation, fair wages etc.)

Production in accordance with laws etc.

An often-overlooked point is that all FSC materials are produced in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, nationally ratified international treaties, and agreements. Although this may seem an obvious point to make, many non FSC forests operate in violation of these laws and conventions.

Building of schools and amenities

As mentioned previously, local populations benefit from the forest revenues (including use of local labour which feeds back into the areas economies).

However, production of FSC forests helps communities in other ways too.

For many of the world’s poorest countries, the FSC® stipulates that a certain percentage of the profits from forestry goes to the construction of local amenities. This can include everything from schools, clinics, housing and more.

Conservation of habitat / natural environment

And last but not least, FSC forests ensure that high conservation values are maintained.  This not only applies to indigenous people, but to wildlife and ecosystems too.

There is significant provision for the protection of animals and plant life, with various parts of FSC forests being preserved completely. In particular, areas with endangered animals and plants are fully protected, and cannot be used for commercial activity.

FSC cardboard boxes preserve habitats
Using FSC cardboard boxes helps to preserve nature / habitats

03: Business Advantages

Direct benefits to companies using FSC cardboard boxes / packaging

Although the wider socio economic and environmental impacts realised by the FSC are hugely important, there are a wide range of benefits for businesses choosing to use FSC cardboard boxes and other certified packaging too.

Please continue reading for the most significant of these.

Satisfying consumer demands (and driving sales)

There is an ever-growing demand amongst consumers for sustainable products and packaging. And FSC cardboard boxes are a key way of highlighting this to your customers.

A majority of individuals will now expect or demand environmentally friendly products, including a focus on where they came from and how they were produced (making chain of custody certification even more important).

In fact, as much as 75% of UK shoppers would prefer (and would choose) a product featuring the FSC logo over one that does not

As your packaging supplied by GWP can feature FSC logos / trademarks, it can become an important tool in driving sales amongst this growing demographic.

Consumers preference FSC
A majority of consumers would select an FSC certified product over a similar, non certified option

Brand perception and positioning

There are couple of startling facts that indicate what using FSC branding (i.e. on FSC certified packaging) can do your brands perception and positioning.

Firstly, a global study from 2017 found an average FSC brand awareness level of 50% among 13 respondent countries.

And secondly, as many as 82% of certificate holders (rising to 88% of retailers and non-manufacturers) have detailed how FSC certification has helped to create a positive corporate image.

Finally, 55% of people in the UK recognise the FSC logo.

In short, FSC is not only well recognised, but well regarded too.

Promotion and marketing

Continuing the theme of statistics, it has been found that 3 in 5 UK consumers expect paper and cardboard packaging to be from sustainable sources, such as FSC.

Besides this, 64% of certificate holders (76% of retailers and non-manufacturers) agree that using the FSC label on products adds value, and that use in promotional material helps to drive sales.

Crucially, GWP’s FSC certification allows any qualifying packaging that you source from us to be printed with FSC logos and trademarks (in line with FSC packaging logo guidelines)

Using FSC certified packaging also enables your business to apply for an FSC promotional license, which then allows for branding, logos, and trademarks to be used across your online and offline marketing channels (although please note that fees apply).

FSC cardboard boxes
Your cardboard boxes can feature FSC branding / logos - which can significantly help your marketing

Guarantee of sustainability

The chain of custody certification, alongside the options for including FSC branding and logos on your packaging, provide a guarantee to not only your business – but also your customers – that your packaging is from genuine FSC approved forests.

So, rather than empty promises regarding sustainability and being green, FSC packaging can showcase that your business really does take its environmental responsibilities seriously.

No additional costs

For most packaging manufacturers – and certainly for GWP – switching to FSC cardboard boxes will incur very little or (typically) no cost.

As the vast majority of material that GWP uses is FSC certified by default, switching to fully FSC certified packaging is usually a straightforward process.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)

Finally, joining schemes such as FSC are highly likely to enhance the standing of your business’ Corporate Social Responsibility. In turn, this can increase credibility with stakeholders, governments, NGOs, and the general public.

In fact, 71% of certificate holders (rising to 88% of retailers and non-manufacturers) agree that FSC helps them to communicate their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

In Summary

Benefits of using FSC cardboard boxes

Your business – by working with GWP to switch to FSC certified packaging – can help to protect nature and social conditions by supporting responsible forest management.

And, as highlighted above, this not only helps local communities, wildlife, indigenous people and those involved in the supply chain, but also has direct benefits to your business too. Improved marketing, improved brand perception, improved CSR and ultimately, improved sales.

If you think your business should be using FSC cardboard boxes / FSC certified packaging, please contact a member of the GWP team to discuss your requirements.

Further Reading...

About the Author

David Mason, GWP Packaging

David Mason

Sales Director | GWP Packaging

David is Sales Director for GWP Packaging, having originally joined the company (then Great Western Packaging) back in 1990. [Read full bio…]

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