Justifying Paper Certification

Vic Nathan Barkin
Many in-plant managers have asked themselves, “Why should my in-plant have to be certified? I use FSC papers; isn’t that enough?” Here’s your answer.

The simple answer is yes—but if that’s your perspective, the argument I can make is that the same could be said to justify not spending money on a variety of things that are “necessary” or are considered a “cost of doing business.” There are, however, ways to reduce costs significantly, which I’ll discuss shortly.

First, you need to be aware, no matter what your political views are, that there are illegal, unethical and unsustainable forestry practices occurring worldwide on a massive scale including, to a certain degree, in North America. Print buyers in all vertical segments of our society are aware of this, including yours I’ll bet. Purchasing professionals are all about responsible sourcing as their industry adapts to growing pressures for accountability. Check out the Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) at responsiblepurchasing.org. Look at their member list as well as their paper purchasing guide.

What Does Being Certified 
Get Me?

Certification ensures that your in-plant’s processes have been verified and validated by an accredited third-party certifying body though the independent auditing of systems to established standards. It also allows you to be able to “brand” a product with a graphic identity label controlled through licensing agreements and third-party approval (just like a sports team or university logo) that is recognized and accepted in the marketplace. All of this comes down to two things: credibility and transparency. If it wasn’t so, why would so many organizations require certified products, certified vendors and/or certified labeling, when in many cases it does cost more?

Spreading the Word

More awareness brings more demand. The old saying goes “lead, follow or get out of the way.” When I hear that “there is no demand” for the FSC or SFI label from a printer, in-plant or not, my response is “…yet.”

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