What Does FSC Stand for and Why is it Important for Print?

What Does FSC Stand for and Why is it Important for Print?

Read Time: 5 Minutes


07 Jun 2022

When purchasing wood or paper products, you might have noticed that they’re often labelled as FSC Certified. This logo is key to identifying products made from responsibly managed forests. Here’s everything you need to know about FSC approved paper in printing, including what FSC stands for and how to add it to your own print designs.


What Does FSC Stand For?

FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to maintaining high standards of environmentally and socially responsible forestry practice. For example, if you receive a flyer with the official FSC symbol on it, this means the paper used to create that flyer and the manufacturer met the standards set by the FSC.

The Forest Stewardship Council was founded in 1994 and has since become one of the most recognisable, respected and widespread forest certification scheme. The certification scheme currently covers over 200 hectares of forest, enabling businesses and consumers around the world to access responsibly managed materials.


FSC Certified Forests

If paper products have been certified by FSC, this means that they meet the ‘gold standard’ for ethical production. This covers more than just the trees – it also ensures that nearby local communities are respected, the habitats of endangered plants and animal species are protected, and that all workers are properly paid.

To become an FSC certified forest, the forest operation must adhere to ten principles:

  1. Comply with all applicable laws and nationally ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements
  2. Maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of its workers
  3. Uphold Indigenous Peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of the land and resources affected by forest management
  4. Maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of local communities
  5. Manage the range of multiple products and services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long-term economic viability and the range of environmental and social benefits
  6. Maintain, conserve or restore ecosystem services and avoid or repair negative environmental impacts
  7. Have a management plan consistent with policies and objectives and proportionate to scale, intensity and risks of its management activities – the plan must be implemented and kept up to date, as well as guide staff and inform stakeholders to justify management decisions
  8. Demonstrate progress towards achieving the management objectives
  9. Maintain or enhance the High Conservation Values in the Management Unit through applying the precautionary approach
  10. Ensure that management activities are selected and implemented consistent with the organisation’s economic, environmental and social policies

FSC Logo Meaning 

There are three FSC labels to look out for when buying products made from paper and wood.

FSC 100%
The FSC 100% symbol means that all of the forest-based materials in that product or packaging are from FSC certified forests.

FSC Recycled
This symbol shows that FSC has verified that 100% of the forest-based materials used to create this product or packaging are from recycled sources (either post-consumer or pre-consumer reclaimed materials).

This label indicates that all forest-based materials in the product or packaging are from FSC-certified forests, verified as recycled or classed as controlled wood. Controlled wood is not from FSC-certified forests, but mitigates the risk of the material originating from unacceptable sources.

It’s important to look out for the FSC stamps on products because they indicate that the materials used to produce these items are recyclable and sustainably sourced – and that the product passes the FSC’s high environmental standards.


Why Should You Choose FSC Printed Products?

According to the FSC, forests cover 30% of the global land area. Preserving our forests is a key element in sustainability for a number of reasons. Firstly, they support numerous indigenous communities that rely on the ecosystem services supplied by forests. Many of these communities also place cultural and spiritual importance on the forests.

The world’s forests are some of the richest areas for biodiversity, providing a variety of habitats for plants and animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. 

They also help mitigate global warming as they absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere. As well as reducing the ability to absorb carbon, deforestation can also cause some of the carbon to be re-released into the atmosphere, which can worsen global warming.

Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year. While this is down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s, the area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990, and therefore still poses a significant challenge.

One of the major causes of deforestation is the legal and illegal logging of the remaining primary forests to meet growing demand. At current rates, the remaining natural forests in South American, Asian and African countries could disappear within a decade.

The FSC play a crucial role in protecting forests that are at risk of destructive logging and the council does not allow for deforestation to take place in its certified concessions. Choosing paper and wood products that are FSC-certified means the wood is traceable to a sustainably managed forest.


Is Wood Sustainable?

As wood is one of the most naturally renewable energy sources, wood and paper products have less of an environmental impact on the environment in comparison to other materials. It also has a lighter carbon footprint than steel or concrete.

Using sustainable wood from sustainably managed forests, like those certified by FSC, can actually be beneficial to the environment. That’s because responsibly managed forests help preserve and grow the world’s forests.


FSC-Certified Printing

Here at instantprint, all of our paper is FSC-certified. All of our paper products are made from FSC Mix or FSC Recycled stock. 

As well as sourcing all of our paper stock from FSC accredited sources and 100% of our energy usage comes from renewable sources., we became certified carbon neutral in 2021 by Achilles Carbon Reduce, the UK’s only accredited GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Certification Scheme.

Find out more about our sustainability efforts here.


Add the FSC Logo to Your Print

If you’d like to make customers aware that you’re using printed products made from FSC-certified stocks, why not add the official logo? 

If you’re interested in adding the FSC stamp to your product, please place an order without uploading your artwork. Then, send your artwork to us in an email at artwork@instantprint.co.uk with your request. We’ll then verify this with FSC and add the official logo to your design. Please allow two extra working days for delivery.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Hollie. I’m one of instantprint’s Artworkers. I create content to support our clients to create professional print, no matter their experience.