Thai Forest Certification Scheme

medium_2015_Laurel B.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

At the recent Fespa Asia show in Bangkok, Thailand we learnt more about the Thai Forest Certification Scheme (TFCS). Rungnapa Wattanavichian, manager of the Thailand Forest Certification Council (TFCC) told us that their scheme’s main objective is to protect the forests because “forests give us everything - home, food and different materials that we can use”.

The TFCC was started by growers and other players in the pulp and wood supply chains, along with various academic entities and industry associations. The Thai Institute of Agro-based Industries and the Federation of Thai Industries support the scheme. Everyone wants to encourage certification so that harvesting can be capped and the forests properly managed to avoid long term damage. Indonesia please take note!

The Thais are also working with the PEFC, the international forestry certification organisation. The PEFC’s mission is to get people to manage their forests at a local level and to do so sustainably. The TFCS, which the PEFC endorses, covers harvesting, process control, legality and chain of custody audits, so it has much in common with the international Forest Stewardship Council certification scheme. However since its foundation in 1992, the PEFC has worked at the local level, albeit with a global programme applicable everywhere. The TFCS is a third party accreditation, with robust and independent audits designed to be particularly suitable for small businesses. Today there are over 17,800 PEFC certifications in 70 countries.

Whether it is a PEFC or FSC scheme, the primary market driver for certification is quality assurance. Third party certification demonstrates compliance with the law and tight process management, reassuring customers. This is important for public procurement contracts and for brands such as UniLever and McDonald’s. The latter for instance has Chain of Custody certifications for wood fibre used in packaging in its 38 European markets, where there are 7,900 McDonald’s outlets. Third party certification confirms that the wood fibre based products companies like McDonald’s use are sustainably sourced.

The TFCC was founded in June 2015 to oversee the Thai scheme and is working with the Thai Ministry of Industry to drive certification. Rungnapa told us that the organisation is also providing input to the review of ISO Technical Report 14061 as part of the process of upgrading it to a standard. ISO TR 14061 provides information to assist forestry organizations in the use of the ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 Environmental Management System standards. Making it a standard means that the document can be used as the reference for certification. The new standard is likely to follow the principles of the Thai scheme and the PEFC method for forestry management certifications. Once published it will be possible for local schemes around the world to be certifed for compliance to it. Through its work with ISO and with local growers Thailand is in the vanguard of sustainable forestry management in South East Asia. It is a model for its region.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Epson, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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