Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More on Reflex - the "ethical" paper

The more I peel back the layers the more layers that are revealed below. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is, as mentioned in an earlier post, investigating the certification of Australian Paper the makers of Reflex. Adam Trumble, FSC's Business Manager, does not want to say too much as he doesn't want to prejudice any claims for or against the cerification but to let the process take its course. I have appended below what Adam and the FSC is prepared to say.

One item that intrigued me in this discussion was that the FSC doesn't do its own certification. That's done through an associated entity Accreditation Services International (ASI), and that associated entity does not actually do the certification either but contracts that out. Byzantinely beauracratic. There's a wrinkle in this exposed layer in that the certification for Australian Paper was done by Smart Wood, which is part of the not-for-profit Rainforest Alliance, and further that the Wilderness Society is a member of the FSC, and sits on its board. It's not a simple story.

FROM FSC Australia

The following points represent FSC Australia's position.

  • The Forest Stewardship Council sets standards for responsible forest management.
  • Organisations may seek certification under FSC forest management standards (forest management certification) or under FSC Chain of Custody Standards (for companies operating in the wood and paper supply chain).
  • FSC does not undertake certifications itself, but through an associated entity (Accreditation Services International (ASI)) authorises certification bodies to conduct assessments and audits against FSC standards.
  • In July 2006, Smart Wood (an accredited certification body and a unit of the US-based Rainforest Alliance) granted a Chain of Custody certificate (SW-COC-001966) to Australian Paper for production of specified paper products.
  • In 2009 FSC clarified requirements for sourcing non-FSC certified ‘controlled wood’ that can be mixed with FSC certified material in a ‘Mix’ label product (Australian Paper supplements its FSC certified wood sourced from nearby plantations with non-FSC certified ‘controlled wood’ sourced from Victorian state forests).
  • FSC Australia has concerns that the Smart Wood audit of Australian Paper in 2009 did not comply with FSC controlled wood requirements.
  • FSC Australia has raised these concerns with ASI in 2010, which is investigating.
  • Smartwood has since conducted a further regular audit of Australian Paper.
  • Pending an outcome of the Smartwood audit and ASI investigation, Australian Paper's Chain of Custody certificate remains valid.
  • FSC Australia does not have the ability to directly influence audit processes and therefore awaits the outcome of both the FSC International review and the Smartwood audit.

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