Wooden furniture is a prominent feature in many homes, offices, and outdoor spaces. A versatile and robust material, the variety of species available provide numerous different styles. The furniture industry is a significant user of timber, either as a raw material for manufacturing, or in components and finished products.
However, there is still a risk that wood used for furniture may be from illegal or unsustainable sources. Illegal logging accounts for 50-90% of all forestry activities in key producer tropical forests, such as those of the Amazon Basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia, and 15-30% of all wood traded globally (Interpol). Illegal logging can cause deforestation, species loss and reduced income for producer countries. Poor forestry practices threaten not only the world’s forests and the wildlife and people that depend on them, but also business and brand reputation.
A growing number of countries and regions, including the European Union and the UK, have introduced legislation banning the trade and use of illegally harvested timber and derived products. In addition, consumers have become more aware of environmental issues and increasingly want to know the source of products. But tracing materials back to the forest they came from is complex as supply chains are difficult to follow. This can make it challenging to determine whether wood used for furniture has been responsibly sourced. The FSC certification system can help to secure a long-term source of wood and other forest-based products; FSC-certified forests have environmental, economic a social benefits.
Our certification system vastly reduces the risk of being confronted with illegal timber. Furthermore, national, regional and local governments – such as those of UK, Netherlands, Germany and Spain – increasingly reference FSC as one of the ways to comply with their public procurement policies while seeking products that support sustainable forest management.
FSC certification demonstrates a company’s commitment to responsible forestry. Worldwide, there are more than 9.700 FSC-certified companies in the indoor furniture sector, over 5.206* of which are based in Europe. Furniture can carry the FSC label and be promoted as FSC certified if it is produced using FSC-certified materials under a valid FSC chain of custody certificate. Businesses buying FSC-labelled furniture may be eligibly to apply for either FSC certification or a promotional licence to enable them to use the FSC trademarks in their own right.
When it comes to forest-based products, FSC certification is the most trusted sustainable choice.* Source: FSC International Database, 2022.
In keeping with the motto “Better living, healthier forests” FSC launches the new edition of its awards looking for the most sustainable furniture manufacturers and retailers throughout Europe.
The FSC Furniture Awards is a Europe-wide competition created by the Forest Stewardship Council® to recognize the commitment to FSC and sustainability of companies in the indoor and outdoor European furniture sectors. The awards are open to FSC-certificate holders and promotional license holders in the furniture sector that have their headquarters in one of the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Companies that apply will have the chance to win one of the three award categories: Commitment, Brand and Communication (one for manufacturers or one for retailers in each category).
The FSC Commitment awards will be given to certificate/license holders that are committed to FSC preference in procurement and commercial policies. The FSC Brand awards will honour companies that use the FSC trademarks in an extraordinary way. The FSC Communications awards will reward companies that convince the Jury with their promotional and communication activities and campaigns including and featuring FSC.
Additional categories include: Manufacturer of the year for indoor and for outdoor furniture and Retailer of the year.
Alexia Schrott from FSC Italy, responsible for the project, proudly explained the rapid growth of the initiative: “After a successful kickoff of FSC Furniture Awards in Italy, in 2021, the initiative was expanded to 11 European countries. Into its 4th edition this year – the contest will be even bigger and open to FSC-certified companies as well as to FSC Trademark Licence holders active in the furniture sector in 20 European countries”.
“There are over 12 000 FSC-certified companies in the furniture sector worldwide. Europe represents almost 50 per cent of the share with most companies located in Poland, Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Germany. Therefore the FSC Furniture Awards are covering the most important furniture strongholds”, Schrott added.
“The furniture industry carries responsibility in ensuring the legal and sustainable origin of the forest-based materials and products. As the world`s most trusted sustainable forest management solution, FSC is a credible partner of furniture companies to achieve this goal and aims to advance sustainable timber value chains. Together with the furniture industry we aim to deliver sustainable products and solutions for conscious consumers and protect the world’s forests through responsible management“ said Schrott.
The application for the FSC Furniture Awards can be submitted starting today until 8th of September, 12 AM CET, through the official website fscfurnitureawards.org. Participation is free of charge.
For applications and further info, please visit the official website or contact your national office.
Wood is the natural material par excellence and has always accompanied the life of human beings. Versatile and durable, it is used to produce everyday objects such as chairs, tables, stools, armchairs and deck chairs; if of sustainable and traceable origin, it also has the characteristic of producing positive environmental, social and economic impacts.
Wood has played an important role in the history of civilization: thinking where we come from without taking into account forests and forest products is impossible.
Of course, things have changed over the centuries; technologies and trends have changed, and the use of this natural resource changed too. According to FAO data, in 2020 more than 4,800 million cubic meters of timber – mainly roundwood, sawnwood and wood-based panels – were produced globally. Although 23% of the EU’s roundwood production in 2020 was used as fuelwood, the remainder is industrial roundwood used for sawnwood and veneers, mainly in the construction and furniture sectors.
On one hand, this fact can encourage the use of forest resources as valid alternatives to materials such as plastic or concrete, which certainly have a greater carbon footprint; on the other hand, however, it can put forests at risk of overexploitation, negatively affecting the contribution they provide to biodiversity conservation and to mitigate climate change.
Using wood of certain, traceable and sustainable origin can contribute in many ways to eliminate this risk, encouraging responsible management practices and favoring a conscious approach to production chains.
1. Sustainable production
Sustainably producing wood means taking into consideration all the dimensions of which a forest is composed: think for example of how many communities in the world still depend today on forests as a means of subsistence or shelter, or of the natural services such as clean water and air that these areas offer us. Or again, of the importance of conserving biodiversity.
FSC certification ensures that the wood comes from forests managed according to high environmental, social and economic standards. This ensures that we can benefit from services and products today without compromising these functions for future generations.
The furniture industry makes extensive use of wood and demonstrating the impacts this generates in a forest can be anything but simple, even more so if the raw material comes from countries on the other side of the world.
Through independent bodies, FSC conducts annual audits in these areas and collects various types of data to monitor and evaluate performances against the desired change in forest management practices. This allows to measure the impacts and constantly improve the system.
The check mark and tree logo is found on millions of products around the world. Sure, but some might say, “So what? How can I trust a simple logo?”
FSC chain of custody (CoC) is the sustainable wood supply chain system that involves more than 50,000 companies worldwide buying, selling and trading FSC-certified material. This means that the wood processed within these supply chains is tracked and evaluated, ensuring the sustainable origin of the material.
Can we still just call it a logo?
How many steps does it take for a log of wood to become a table, or a chair, or the desk we work on? If we take an ideal supply chain we can easily count them: first the forest manager, then the logging company, the broker, the first and second processing. The reality, however, is much more complex, and it may take many stock changes before we see a finished product. Obviously, this implies the possibility that illegal practices or forest destruction can lurk along the supply chain.
Choosing certified wood helps to promote transparency and traceability of the raw material, from the forest to stores.
5. Market awareness
According to research conducted by GlobeScan for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in which 12,000 people in 15 countries participated, concerns about the loss of plant and animal species and the impact of deforestation are growing among consumers. Additionally, over 80% of respondents say they expect companies to ensure their wood and paper products do not contribute to deforestation.
This fact has changed the factors and consumption choices of people, who also declare that they place their trust in third-party certifications such as FSC and are willing to pay more for products of sustainable origin.