Pro Umwelt

FSC®-certification of Progroup’s corrugated sheetboard plants

Wood as a raw material is a precious commodity. To encourage it to be handled in a sustainable way, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has introduced a certificate of the same name. It has developed into an important seal of quality for products which have been created from ecological forest management. The corrugated board from Progroup’s corrugated sheetboard plants now also bears the FSC logo. To achieve this, the entire organisation must pull in the same direction – from goods purchasing through to sales.

“Forests for all, forever”

This is the slogan of the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC), an international, not-for-profit organisation. It campaigns for environmentally sustainable forestry. Its aim is to make responsible forest stewardship visible on products globally by using a seal of quality. FSC-certified forestry is of course intended to preserve natural forest ecosystems and encourage forest management that offers safe working conditions for people and safeguards the long-term demand for wood as a raw material. Currently more than 200.8 million hectares of forest around the world are FSC-certified, of which 99.1 million hectares are in Europe and around 1.36 million hectares are in Germany.

The FSC chain for tracking products (chain of custody)

The FSC product chain documents the path that products take from the forest. This chain extends from the forestry business at which the wood raw material is harvested through to the company which manufactures packaging bearing the FSC logo. All the links in the chain must be certified. In the case of recycled materials, the chain begins at the point in time when they are recovered. The path ends at the point at which the product is finally sold with an FSC declaration or is turned into a finished product bearing an FSC label.

FSC certification at Progroup

All of Progroup’s corrugated sheetboard plants have been FSC-certified since the beginning of 2017. “We have always taken great care to manufacture environmentally friendly packaging,” says Marco Zacher, FSC officer at Progroup. What this means for Progroup’s customers is that they only ever receive corrugated board that bears the sustainable forest management seal. This is the only way that they can manufacture products which can likewise be certified.

„“We have always taken great care to manufacture environmentally friendly packaging,”“
Marco Zacher, FSC officer at Progroup
In use: FSC-certified raw materials only

“We opted for an FSC mix 70%,” reports Dirschnabel. Specifically, this means that at least 70% of the materials used in production are from FSC-certified forests and FSC-certified recycled material. This is supplemented by 30% of materials from controlled sources.

The whole organisation must comply

The whole organisation is required to meet the conditions for certification. For example, when goods are received it is necessary to check whether the FSC statement on the supplier’s documentation corresponds to the information which is stored in the system. Raw materials management checks the validity of the certificates and their corresponding filing in the FSC database. The accounts department checks whether all incoming demands contain the correct FSC details. Finally, production must ensure that no incorrect papers end up in the manufacturing process.

Management review graphic
Regular precise checks

The FSC initiative carefully examines who may display the FSC logo. Strict and regular checks by independent auditors are standard practice. “We have implemented the multi-site procedure,” says Dirschnabel. This involves an audit being carried out once a year by a certified auditor – in the Group Office, in a plant in Germany, at an international Progroup site, and in every new Progroup corrugated sheetboard plant.
If the auditors find that the conditions are met everywhere, the entire Group is awarded the FSC certificate. But the converse rule also applies: if it should be found at one plant that the requirements placed on the management system have been grossly violated, all sites would lose their authorisation to sell FSC goods.

The effort has been worthwhile

Progroup’s corrugated sheetboard plants are now firmly established in the chain of custody. Every end customer that holds packaging bearing the FSC logo in their hands can rest assured that it does so justifiably. For Progroup, the certification has another positive effect. It has enabled the company to secure new customers for whom working with environmentally friendly materials is also an important part of their corporate philosophy.