What is FSC Packaging Certification

Introduction to FSC Packaging Certification

A 2022 survey conducted with Australian consumers revealed that over 38% of those surveyed always considered sustainability in their purchase decisions. This speaks to the changing landscape in business where sustainability is an expectation rather than a preference for modern customers. 

With food packaging making up a substantial part of landfill in Australia, one of the simplest ways to reduce waste is to make the switch from single-use plastic packaging to renewable, recyclable and compostable packaging - but making sure that your renewable/ biobased packaging is responsibly sourced is a key pillar of sustainable business practice.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) is an internationally recognised non-profit organisation that promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests. Founded in 1994, they have become a leader in sustainable forest management and operate one of the most trusted forest certification processes in the industry maintaining strict international standards and practices.

With 80% of Australian customers saying they are more likely to trust a company who uses FSC-certified products and 77% of Australians signaling that they would pay more for FSC-certified products, understanding what they are is essential for modern businesses.

FSC-Certified Packaging Explained

FSC-Certification of packaging means that the material it is made from is ethically sourced using trees found in FSC managed forests. This includes materials like paper, paperboard and wood pulp that can be used to make anything from paper towels, paper bags and disposable plates to rubber gloves and wooden furniture.

Three Types of FSC Labels 

There are three different FSC labels that can be found on packaging which have been developed for easy identification of the materials being used.

FSC 100%

If this label is on products then it means that the materials sourced are 100% virgin and obtained entirely from FSC certified forests.


If the FSC Mix label is on a product it means that the material used is a mixture of any 2 materials. Specifically, of the following: FSC-certified forests, recycled materials and/ or FSC-controlled wood.

FSC Recycled

If the FSC recycled logo appears on your packaging, it’s completely made from recycled materials.

10 FSC Principles

FSC has major standards that must be met by all stakeholders throughout the forest supply chain (including from foresters to shipping industries). The guidelines that unify all parties  involved are:

  • Environmentally appropriate.
  • Socially beneficial.
  • Economically viable.

FSC has developed 10 principles that are used as the foundations for their forestry standards and follow these three main tenets:

  1.  Adhere to all relevant laws.
  2. Enhance the welfare of workers by social and economic means.
  3. Respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Enhance the welfare of local communities by social and economic means.
  5. Ensure sustainability of products and services with a focus on long-term improvements in the 3 major FSC standards.
  6. Maintain and preserve the ecosystem services and environmental values, as well as avoid or repair any damage to the environment.
  7. Develop a management plan with economic, environmental, and social goals.
  8. Make progress towards meeting objectives.
  9. Preserve high conservation values.
  10. Ensure compliance with FSC principles and criteria.


Why FSC-Certified Packaging is Important

According to a World Wildlife Fund report, Australia has been listed in the top 10 land clearing nations in the world - and is the only developed nation among the world’s deforestation hotspots with almost a million hectares of land cleared in the years between 2004 and 2017 and 50% of Australia’s rainforests cleared. FSC-certified packaging helps to maintain the world’s forests and reduce the occurrences of illegal logging and excessive deforestation. When purchasing packaging derived from a forest source, it’s an assurance that the materials did not come from illegally harvested forests.

How do Businesses Become FSC Certified?

There are two primary types of certifications that exist. These are:

  • Forest Management (FM) Certification 

Designed for forest managers and owners to ensure responsible forest management by assessing their forestry practices and how they align with international standards.

  • Chain of Custody (CoC) Certification 

Designed for businesses using forest-based materials. The CoC certification allows businesses to record and disclose the origins of the materials that they’re using in forest products by providing an identifiable chain to show each step in the production process of their items. This certification system is important in enabling businesses to avoid purchasing products that may have been produced illegally or encounter unsustainable practices throughout the supply chain. 

There is a five-step process to becoming FSC certified for the Forest Management and Chain of Custody certifications.

Step 1- The first step in getting certified involves contacting accredited certification bodies who act as a third party to ensure sustainability guidelines are being met. This process includes requesting quotes on the costs and time it takes to become certified and requires a business to provide basic information about your business.

Step 2- Having reached out to a FSC certification body of choice, you would submit your application and sign an agreement with that body.

Step 3- The third step in this process is making sure you have the appropriate FM or CoC system in place that fits within the standards of these certificates.

Step 4- As you are nearing the end of your application, a FSC audit will be conducted on-site to ensure your company is compliant to all the applicable FSC requirements. A report is created following the audit where the chosen accredited body will decide on certifying your business.

Step 5- This step is where you will become a FSC certified business. If you are successful, you will receive a certificate and your licence code unique to your business.


Benefits of Choosing FSC Certified

There are many benefits of choosing FSC-certified products and working with FSC-certified businesses.

Environmental Benefits: Choosing FSC-certified packaging promotes responsible management of forests. This means that biodiversity will be maintained, illegal logging be prevented and ensuring there will be no net loss of forests despite trees being harvested.

Social Benefits: Being FSC-certified means the rights of workers, local communities and indigenous peoples will be respected and protected. The FSC certification requires that cultural rights be maintained, and forest inhabitants be consulted. The certification also ensures social responsibility like fair wages, appropriate training and safety protocols are met for all workers.  

Economical Benefits: A World Wildlife Fund report found that there are numerous economic benefits to using FSC certified products including: an increase in customer trust, customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction and potentially greater staff retention.

Around 18 Australian Football fields worth of forests are cleared every minute around the world. With stats like this, it’s clear that conserving and ensuring forests are being maintained is vital to the health and future of our planet. Using products and materials that are FSC-certified helps to lead by example and create a sustainable environment by raising awareness on ethical sourcing and promoting responsible forestry.

Learn more about Bunzl Express' sustainability initiatives here. 

Food packaging & takeawaySustainability