Ensuring sustainability

Published:  December 18, 2012
Darragh Brennan
Ensuring sustainability

How to ensure your paper products are truly sustainable

While environmental considerations have always been important to many designers, it is undeniable that the sustainability credentials of paper suppliers have become a major talking point over the past year.

Purchasers of paper and boarding products are becoming more aware of the need for strong environmental protections, and these are starting to have a greater impact on buying decisions.

Identifying the protections and regimes which best ensure responsible environmental practices can often be confusing however, especially if you are not necessarily aware of the various legality and sustainability programs which are currently in place around the world.

Luckily, the recent push toward timber legality and sustainable forestry have made it easier for everyone to identify which paper suppliers abide by the highest international standards.

In the sustainable forestry sector, there are two major ways for designers and paper purchasers to be assured products are truly sustainable. The first of these is to make sure that the wood used, whether in pulp, paper or timber form, has not been sourced through any illegal means.

There are a number of countries around the world which currently have strong legality regimes which ensure all products sourced or produced in that country abide by stringent international standards.

Luckily for Australian designers, one nation which has enacted a world leading regime is surprisingly close to home – Indonesia. The recently introduced legality standard, referred to as SVLK, helps ensure that all pulp and paper products have been sourced through legal processes and adhere to international standards.

These regulations, which cover licensing, harvesting, transporting and processing, are among the strongest in the world and have been developed to put other nations at ease when importing supplies from Indonesia.

Importantly for designers, this means that no illegally sourced pulp will be in any paper or printing products from the nation.

Ensuring you are purchasing paper products which fulfill the requirements of a legality regime such as SVLK is one of the key ways to be assured you are using items which are sourced both legally responsibly.

PEFC logo

The second major way to be assured the paper you are using is sustainable is to make sure they are certified by one of the two globally recognised forestry schemes – PEFC or FSC.

Forestry certifications primarily aim to guarantee a country has sound management practices in place to support environmentally responsible businesses.  While the amount of forest currently certified is more than double what it was only five years ago, less than 10% of the world’s forestry is now certified.

This is a key reason why it is so important to purchase paper and boarding products which carry a certification logo as it ensures products come from sustainably managed sources.

Some schemes, most notably PEFC, go a step further assessing the social impact of a company, to ensure the supplier is also acting in a socially sustainable fashion. This includes ensuring employers are providing competitive pay, safe working conditions and comprehensive benefits to employees. The attractiveness to paper manufactures of applying a global standard to facilities which are commonly outside of Australia ensures that all parts within a global supply chain, no matter where in the world, are abiding by standards which all Australian designers would call sustainable.

Understandably, ensuring that the paper you are using ticks all of the sustainability boxes is of growing importance to everyone in the design industry. And while the issue has definitely garnered greater attention over the past year, it has also helped purchasers in all industries better realise the global programs which provide a legitimate assurance as to the environmental and social sustainability of select products.

Ensuring the paper you purchase is from a supplier which abides by these standards is the best way to feel completely assured the paper you are using is sourced and produced responsibly.

One Response

  1. Allanah

    Great article! It is so oftern forgotten the impact and importance of not only environmental, but social sustainability. It’s our responsibility as designers to implement this wherever we can.

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