The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) has held its annual stakeholder day, with a focus on ‘Market Drivers for Certified Products’.
The event saw a breadth of speakers from the fields of retail, construction and brands, providing informative insights into the market-based initiatives that are driving demand for certified products, sustainable forest management and the global role PEFC plays in developing certified forests.
Julian Walker-Palin, a non-executive director of PEFC International, and formerly Walmart’s head of corporate responsibility at Asda, said: “The environment had never been more important than it is now, with sustainable development goals proving to be key drivers for certified products.”
The keynote speech was provided by Ignacio Gavilan, director of sustainability for global industry group The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). The CGF brings together more than 400 retailers, manufacturers and service providers, including major brands such as Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, L’Oreal, Nestle, P&G, Tesco and Asda-WalMart.
He focussed on ‘Zero Net Deforestation by 2020’, and the role of responsible sourcing in helping achieve this goal. The CGF recognises the important role that forest certification schemes such as PEFC’s can play, in providing companies with verification of legality and providing a low risk of controversial sources. Gavilan said: “Consumers need to trust the products they are buying, so transparency and the truth are big issues.”
Other speakers included Martyn White, manager of sustainability for the John Lewis Partnership, who provided a retailer’s perspective on managing risk and enhancing brand value through responsible sourcing.
Riikka Joukio, senior vice-president for sustainability and corporate affairs at the Metsä Group, and also a former co-chair of the WBCSD Forest Solutions Group, gave an informative view from the packaging sector’s perspective, urging customers to actively support sustainable forest management certification.
Joukio revealed that Europe is the currently the global champion in paper recycling, with a rate of 71%, whilst paperboard is the most recycled packaging product with a current rate of 81%. She also stated that it is fresh fibre in paper and board products that helps to make recycling possible, and that since 1950, European forests have grown by over 30%, at a rate of 1.5m football pitches per year, an area equivalent to four times the size of London.
PEFC International’s Sarah Price completed the speaker line up, delivering an update on PEFC’s work to grow certified forests to meet customer demand, and informing those gathered that so far, PEFC has Chain of Custody in 62 countries, totaling over 285m hectares.
Ross Bradshaw, PEFC UK chairman, said: “More and more companies from SMEs to global brands are keen to demonstrate that the forest products they use come from certified sustainable sources. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact of their purchasing decisions and we hope those who joined us for this year’s stakeholder event gained a better understanding of the role market-based initiatives play in helping to secure a healthy future for the world’s forests.”
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