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Group Certification Makes FSC Affordable for In-plants

A new FSC group certification program for in-plants will let you get certified at a much lower cost while helping you fulfill some of the FSC administrative requirements.

December 2011 By Vic Nathan Barkin
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FOR THOSE of you who know me, you know that being a transcendental, greenie, hippie kind of dude just isn't my style. I'm more pragmatic than that.

To put it in a nutshell, I love forests, I love paper, I love printing, and I love in-plants. I want to see in-plants succeed and economically sustain themselves for their own sakes as well as for the sakes of their parent institutions. As a former in-plant manager, I know your value and believe in your mission. And as you know, innovation is the key to your success.

There are many ways to innovate to keep your products and services relevant. Within that mix is institutional sustainability alignment, which should be woven into every facet of your in-plant's internal and external sustainability communication strategy.

What's that? You don't have an internal and external sustainability communication strategy? Well don't feel alone. Here's a shocker: many in-plants are not part of their organizations' marketing departments. So in all likelihood, there is no professional marketing presence within your department. Am I right?

What if you had a professional resource as part of a program that could cost-effectively give you sustainability marketing expertise? In other words, someone who would help you promote the sustainability benefits your in-plant provides and how they support the "green" goals of the entire organization.

Well now there is such a resource. A brand new organization has been formed, dedicated to helping in-plants obtain economically affordable and administratively feasible FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. Print Resources, LLC, was created to provide FSC certification at a lower cost to in-plant print operations through the InGreen group certification program. As an added benefit, the program is being spearheaded by one of the best marketing minds in the paper/print/mail industry, Rick Huntoon. He will work for you to help communicate FSC certification's value to all of your stake holders.

Responsible Forest Management

Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes the responsible management of the world's forests. FSC certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value.

As laudable as FSC certification is, many in-plant printers have been sitting on the sidelines due to the cost of independently becoming FSC certified. Those costs can easily reach many thousands of dollars a year. Group certification drastically reduces the cost of FSC certification to $1,695 per year for most organizations.

Another drawback for in-plant printers wanting to become FSC certified has been the concern that paperwork and compliance issues will absorb too much staff time. Group certification reduces much of the time commitment for certification compliance by allowing InGreen to take the responsibility for many key administrative and compliance requirements, such as documented procedures and training. The basic responsibility for the in-plant will be to order and track FSC materials using the FSC required guidelines.

With InGreen as your group administrator, you will have access to experts that you can contact for quick answers regarding the FSC process and day-to-day issues that may come up. There will be no need for you to spend precious time combing through FSC rules and regulations to find the answers to your certification compliance questions.

Many Benefits

So here's the deal: with the InGreen Program you get FSC certified as part of a group for less than half the cost of doing so independently, and as an included benefit, you get one of the keenest marketing minds in the printing and mailing industry to provide you with strategies and programs to get your message heard. Not bad.

Print Resources, LLC Founder Rick Huntoon is one of the best marketers I've ever known (and I've known a lot), and is extremely knowledgeable on the subject of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He pioneered sustainable certification for the envelope industry as vice president of marketing for National Envelope Corp., and has assisted numerous companies in their quest to become FSC certified. Rick is an expert in promoting the use of environmental certification programs to grow a company's image and business, which goes well beyond paper certification.

What is InGreen?

InGreen is an acronym for In-plant Graphic Reproduction for the Environment, Ecology and Nature. The program has received permission from the Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood Program to establish an FSC group certification program for in-plant printers. Any qualifying in-plant printer participating in the program will become FSC chain-of-custody (CoC) certified upon meeting all the requirements set forth by FSC and the group management.

FSC Group CoC is available through InGreen to in-plant printers in the U.S. with annual print sales of less than $5 million (services such as mailing, non-paper specialty products, etc. are excluded). FSC group certification carries exactly the same credibility and standing as independent FSC certification.

So now is the time. If you've been considering getting certified, but the cost and administrative time commitment has been deterring you, I invite you to contact Rick directly at or call him at (214) 228-1448 for more information.

By doing so, you can become FSC, Rainforest Alliance and InGreen certified all in one fell swoop. Each has its own distinctive positive brand, which each group member will be licensed to use. Again, not bad.

Developing and substantiating yourself as a credible, sustainable operation allows you to weave yourself into the fabric of your institution and adds additional value within your community as a strategic partner.

And adding value is what in-plants are all about.


About the Author
Vic Barkin has more than 35 years of experience in the printing industry including 12 years leading Northern Arizona University's in-plant. He currently owns a consulting practice specializing in business development, workflow and technology implementation focusing on "green printing" practices, and is an FSC senior auditor for SmartWood, as well as an SFI/PEFC auditor for PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Barkin is also vice president of the Mountain States Printing Education Foundation, a writer for national publications (like this one) and has been a presenter at many national and regional conferences. Contact him at


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