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06 / 10 / 2021
Trust, but verify. Why brands need to care about certification in an age of enhanced consumer transparency (Part 2)
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news
06 / 10 / 2021
Trust, but verify. Why brands need to care about certification in an age of enhanced consumer transparency (Part 2)

In Part 2 of the conversation on certification in an age of enhanced consumer transparency, Peter talks to Ben about the importance of certification for manufacturers and brands and the recent announcements around the EU Single Use Plastic Directive (EUSUPD).

Peter: Welcome back Ben, let’s continue!

Ben: Thanks Peter, happy to talk through certification further!

Peter: Why should manufacturers consider wood as a sustainable source for the manufacturing of textiles? Can this also apply to nonwoven goods like wipes and facial sheet masks?

Ben: Wood, when it comes from forests and trees that are sustainably managed, is a renewable natural resource. In certified forests, trees are planted and harvested according to a sustainable management plan. The aim is to maintain a balance of inventory across all tree ages to optimize carbon sequestration and storage in the mid- and long-term, as well as to maintain the biodiversity and protect endangered tree species and animals.

Additionally, wood materials are part of the climate-solutions – as trees sequester, store, and substitute carbon. Trees also continue to store this carbon after being transformed into a product, such as clothing made from forest fibers, nonwoven goods, or packaging. This means that forests can be managed for productive purposes and still play an important role in tackling climate change. And when you substitute fossil-based raw materials with responsibly sourced wood, you reduce the carbon footprint of a product further.

Wood is also recyclable and can be made into new products, becoming part of a circular economy. And finally, at the end of use, wood fibers can biodegrade. Renewability, carbon sequestration, storage and substitution, recyclability, and biodegradability – these are the sustainable qualities of wood raw material that can benefit textile and nonwoven goods.

Peter: For manufacturers looking to develop or source from these forests, are there any specific requirements or challenges involved?

Ben: If you are a manufacturer, you should start with developing a responsible sourcing policy for your suppliers, where you specify certified wood raw material from sustainably managed forests. The next step is to communicate your requirements to your suppliers. Some of them may already hold a chain of custody certificate and be able to sell certified materials. Others might have some volume sourced with a certification claim, but not have their own chain of custody certificate, the missing link! They will need to obtain it, in order to provide you with verified claims. There will be other types of suppliers, who are not yet sourcing from sustainably managed forests, but by working together you will be able co-create value for our forests and support forest owners, who adopt sustainable forestry practices.

Peter: How would you address the misconception that wood is unsustainable for brands? What are the core elements differentiating ethically sourced wood?

Ben: The common misconception is that when you use wood, then you cause deforestation. First, let’s get the terminology right. Deforestation (as defined by FAO ,2020) is the conversion of forests to other land use. The term specifically excludes areas where the trees have been removed because of harvesting or logging, and where the forest is expected to regenerate naturally or with the aid of silvicultural measures[1]. So, we need to look at the net change of the forest over a period of time and sustain the zero-net deforestation.

With sustainable forest management certification, you cannot convert a forest to non-forest area, like plantation or agriculture land. Rather you sustain a healthy and thriving forest, maintain its ecosystem and biodiversity, and regrow what you harvest. A forest can produce a range of products and achieve zero-net deforestation, if the sustainable management is in place.

There are a lot of values and benefits that can come from a sustainably managed forest. For example, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) - our member organization in North America, has a variety of projects, from conservation and community development to youth education. SFI also values the important relationships between forests and Indigenous communities and the SFI standards ensure that SFI-certified organizations are aware of traditional forest-related knowledge, such as known cultural heritage sites, the use of wood in traditional buildings and crafts, and flora that may be used in cultural practices for food, ceremonies, or medicine.

Peter: With the recent launch of the EU Single Used Plastics Directive (SUPD), do you think it will encourage more companies to apply for forest certification? Why is that?

Ben: Fiber-based packaging is one of the areas that offers vast opportunities to innovate, which neatly fits into the objective of the Directive to promote the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable products and materials. And single-use products made purely from wood-based material have been assessed for their potential to serve as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic products, with the added advantage that the material is recyclable.

Forest certification also manages to balance business objectives with sustainable goals. According to the first PEFC/ GfK Global Consumer Survey, an overwhelming majority of consumers globally - more than 80% - want companies to use labels on products.[2] And according to a Nielsen study, 73% of global consumers would change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.[3]

Peter: Ben, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and telling us a little bit more about certification and why it’s so important! Lenzing are so thrilled to have PEFC and SFI as a partner of ours in certifying our own sustainability.

Ben: Thank you so much for the opportunity!

___________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Global Forest Assessment Report 2020, FAO http://www.fao.org/3/I8661EN/i8661en.pdf

[2] source: https://pefc.org/news/consumers-trust-certification-labels-and-expect-companies-to-label-products-pefc-research-shows PEFC Global Consumer Survey by GfK

[3] source: https://nielseniq.com/global/en/insights/analysis/2019/a-natural-rise-in-sustainability-around-the-world/

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