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Thursday, 11 June 2015
Back of product, front of mind: what do the different FSC labels mean?

Understanding where your favourite wood and paper products are sourced from.

The FSC green tree ‘tick’ logo is the most sought after environmental seal of approval for forest products within Australia, New Zealand and around the world, with three different labels indicating where the wood or paper material comes from.

International demand for products that carry the FSC logo is encouraging a growing number of forest managers, retailers and manufacturers to be assessed against the FSC’s standards to achieve accreditation, so it’s no surprise there are an increasing number of wood products readily available that carry an FSC logo.

Buying an FSC certified product also means that you’re creating demand for FSC products, in turn investing in the future of Australian and New Zealand forests by encouraging forest managers to strive for FSC certification.

While the logo is easily recognisable and highly respected, we often receive questions about what each of the labels actually mean and the differences between them.

Label guide:

  • FSC 100%: This label indicates the product you’re buying is made of wood fibre that has been 100% sourced from FSC Certified plantations. 
  • FSC Recycled: This label ensures that the product you’re buying contains only recycled material, with a minimum 85% being post-consumer waste.
  • FSC Mix: This label ensures that the product you’re buying contains at least 70 per cent FSC Certified or Post-consumer recycled material, and the remainder of the product may include pre-consumer recycled material, or Controlled Wood.

So what does each label really mean?
There are key differences between each label and strict rules around the materials that can be used in all FSC labeled products. We’ve outlined in more detail which sources can be used for each label below:

FSC 100%
FSC 100% is the absolute gold standard in FSC labels, ensuring that 100% of the forest components come from FSC Certified forests, complying with FSC’s rigorous international standards. This label indicates that materials included in the product are from the most responsibly managed forests in the world. This label can be found on timber products such as outdoor furniture, or non-timber forest products as diverse as rubber sports balls, latex gloves or even maple syrup.

FSC Recycled
FSC Recycled label is a very high standard. We believe that when consumers see a recycled label they expect a large percentage of the product to have had a full life already. FSC Recycled labels ensure that products contain a minimum of 85% post-consumer waste – which is the material you recycle in your home or office after it’s original use is completed. The remaining 25% of the product can only be pre-consumer waste – which is unused materials that have been recycled such as manufacturing off-cuts- or other verified reclaimed materials.

The FSC Mix label is a flexible option to accommodate the large variety of products available around the world that might not be either ‘100%’ or ‘Recycled’ in the strict FSC definitions. Mix label products may contain a combination of the following sources:
Minimum 70% content from:

  • FSC Certified forests
  • Recycled material under FSC’s strict post-consumer standard
  • Maximum 30% content from:
  • Reclaimed or pre-consumer recycled material
  • Controlled Wood forest material

There are a huge variety of possible combinations under the Mix label, and it is the most common label you will see in retailers around the world. It is the only label which may -but will not always- contain FSC Controlled Wood. The Controlled Wood standard exists to ensure that this smaller portion of the product meets a minimum threshold of requirements that separates those forest managers that are at the beginning of their FSC accreditation journey by engaging with the Controlled Wood standard from those forest managers that still engage in seriously unacceptable harvesting practices. Controlled Wood excludes the 5 most unacceptable sources of forest products, such as illegally logged timber or damages High Conservation Values.

For more information on Controlled Wood, see this blog post

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000201