What are the FSC® and PEFC® Certifications?

21 Mar 2021

Why are they important to the Packaging industry?

FSC® and PEFC® certifications were born to guarantee the sustainability of products manufactured using forest resources, such as paper, cardboard or wood. These credentials ensure the forestry management of certified providers is carried out within the parameters of responsible criteria from ecological, social and economic perspectives.


In our article, we analyse the meaning of these certifications and why they are particularly relevant in the packaging industry.

The main objective of FSC® and PEFC® certifications

FSC® and PEFC® certifications are the most widespread internationally. Both have the same goal: to verify the sustainability of forest management by farm owners and factories involved in obtaining and processing forest resources.

Next, we will go through the features of each one:

1. PEFC® (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification®

PEFC® started in 1999 thanks to a private initiative that focused on the management of European forests, although it is now at work in 72 countries. The PEFC® certification takes into account the features of each territory and, therefore, is based on the regulations set by each country, for example: the UNE 162002:2013, which contains the criteria for forest management in Spain.

The PEFC® certification covers different aspects of forest management:


- Certification of a Sustainable Forest Management: it is centred on endorsing responsible practices of owners or forest managers when obtaining the raw materials. It also includes social aspects related to work, for example, workplace safety conditions or non-discrimination.

- Chain of Custody Certification: it monitors each leg of the way as the forest resources go from their origin to the end consumer, in order to guarantee they are treated correctly by each company that is a part of the supply chain.

2. FSC® Certification (Forest Stewardship Council)

As they say in their official website, “FSC® will promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests”. The FSC® seal allows companies to attain wood from national and international forests managed following sustainable criteria. Among the members that belong to the FSC® are NGOs essential to the defence of the environment, such as WWF and Greenpeace.

The FSC® accredits three different certifications:


- Forest Management: it is geared towards forest development managers or owners.

- Chain of Custody: it can be obtained by the manufacturers or distributors of FSC® certified products. 

Why are the PEFC® and FSC® important in the packaging industry?

According to scientific research, woodland deforestation is the second greatest reason for greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, especially because of illegal or unauthorised operations to extract natural resources.

In this context, the PEFC® and FSC® certifications are tools that provide both businesses and end customers the opportunity to choose by giving them transparent and cross-referenced information. Here is an example: every time someone buys sustainable packaging that has been manufactured using cardboard with a PEFC® or FSC® certification, they are fostering the work of companies who manage forest resources responsibly.

In the packaging industry, sustainability is not a new concept, and it is an essential part of trends such as eco-design, which is changing the way cardboard containers are created. PEFC® and FSC® certification stamps ensure that each participant in the manufacture of cardboard packaging, including carriers, printers, paper sector businesses and distributors use the obtained raw materials in a sustainable manner.

Essentra Packaging, a PEFC® and FSC® certified business

As folding carton, label and leaflet providers for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, Essentra Packaging’s manufacturing facilities continually use raw materials sourced from the forest. Our PEFC® certification and FSC® C016627 credentials allow us to place value on the responsible resource management implemented by our paper and cardboard providers.

These verification systems are a key pillar in our approach to sustainable packaging, but it is not the only one. The certified raw materials we work with are indeed renewable, but not infinite. This is why we always recommend keeping a close watch on aspects such as design and volumetric development to use materials in a rational and well-adjusted way. Do you need consultancy services to make your company’s packaging more responsible? We invite you to contact us here.