Your Guide to the New FSC Labels – Part 2

We had another great turnout for our latest webinar on the new FSC labeling standard.

qandaAnd yes, you had oodles of questions for our guest speaker FSC Canada Program Officer Monika Patel. Part 2 of those queries and her answers (Thank you Monika!) are presented below. Part 1 may be found in PaperSpecs’ Tips Archive.

If you missed this webinar or would like to listen again, please go to PaperSpecs Webinars. Special thanks to Kallima Paper for sponsoring the event!

If multi languages are used on a label for different countries that use a ® and a ™ symbol, which should be used?
The lower denominator should be used, so the “TM.”

Why do I have a choice of Registered “R” and Trademark “TM” on the label generator?
This choice is available to all certificate holders. Some may sell products to one country or many so the option is needed. Annex I tells you which to use depending on the country.

Is it standard practice for a printer to charge extra for a print job if you want it to be FSC certified and carry the proper labeling on it? Last year when we bid out a particular job, some printers wanted to charge extra for that service, and others didn’t.
FSC does not control this at all. We see small premiums for FSC-certified products when it comes to printing, or it’s the cost of doing business.  If it’s a very special type of order then there may be a higher premium.

Why is the recycled content and loop so much smaller on the new labels? I think it does not encourage people to use papers with higher PCW content.
Good question! We received many comments that the old labels were too big, too confusing, and the recycled loop was too big. You can always state outside the label the amount of postconsumer and/or pre-consumer content that’s in the specific product.

Can you reverse the logo out of a background?
Most likely if the background is solid. Specific cases are reviewed by the printer’s certification body.

Can I leave the “current logo” as is on a repeat print job?
Yes, until the end of June. Beginning July 1, 2011 and forward, the new labels must be used.

Can we use a 4-color match of Pantone 626 for the label?
Yes, the numbers are: 100C, 60M, 100Y, and 20K or 50R, 80G, and 60B.

What about off product use or promotional use of labels?
The label generator has a promotional label panel as well.

Sometimes we get feedback that people feel “cheated” when they first start to understand credit systems. How do you address the explanation about the fact that products may have only 35 percent certified fiber, but suppliers are claiming that 100 percent of the fiber is certified based on credit systems?
We are creating some training tools that will hopefully address this more clearly by the end of 2011. However, in the mean time, it’s important to explain that all the fiber in the paper in the customers’ hands is most likely a combination of FSC, reclaimed, or controlled wood content. CW is difficult to quickly explain, but basically it weeds out the worst of the worst types of forestry practices. All of the FSC-certified paper sold as certified ensures that the mill receives that same amount of FSC certified or PCW fiber, and that fiber is blended in the paper making process.  So, the FSC-certified fiber is still being used overall, and the amount in can be claimed out as FSC and no more. The more demand for FSC-certified paper, the more virgin material will be coming from FSC-certified sources and postconsumer reclaimed so the impact is quite great.

Will the paperwork say FSC Mix, or will it specify the percentage as well (e.g FSC Mixed 50%)?
The invoice should state FSC-mixed credit or FSC-mixed X%.

A company is supplying a home center with FSC-certified product. The company wants to provide the home center with its own promotional panel that the home center will use to indicate where the FSC products are. Does the home center need to get a logo resource pack (LRP) from the FSC Trademark Service Provider?
Not necessarily. A LRP is only needed when the home center wants to make promotional claims that they use FSC-certified products or have FSC-certified products for sale. Otherwise, this is seen as an ad by the certificate holder for their products so the home center does not need a LRP.

The FSC label on the Santa Claus boots ad had a bevel and emboss effect. Are added effects like this allowed?
This is something that happened to the PPT slide and is not standard use of the FSC Label.

How long does the approval process take to give to the printer?
Turnaround time is typically within 24 hours, and we see very quick turnaround time. It’s always good to plan ahead as much as possible though.

Will the approval time change?
This is a question for the certification body (CB) that does your approvals. All CBs seem to want to respond to approvals faster and faster, but the integrity needs to be maintained.

If a printer is certified, why would they have to get every file approved? Are they available 24 hours/day?
If the printer shows its CB that they understand how to use the FSC TMKs properly on a consistent basis, then a blanket approval may be granted (for a specific label, or a specific product, etc.).

Are the low res and other graphics to place available on a US site?
Not at this time. Designers can use low-res images of the FSC labels available on our website:

Do the product shipping boxes need to display the FSC label as well as the product itself?
The use of the FSC label is optional. However, if you wish to communicate that the shipping boxes and/or product are FSC certified, the FSC label can be used.

What about FSC promotional logo?
The label generator has a promotional label panel as well.

Does the label on an outer envelope, which is 100% FSC, correct even if the enclosures are not FSC papers?
The new FSC labels will specify if the label refers to the envelope or to the envelope contents.

Can you address the scenario of when a non-certified end user buys FSC paper from a FSC paper broker and mill and prints at an FSC printer. They are still able to use the FSC labels, correct?
In February 2010, FSC released a new advice note (FSC-ADV-40-017) “FSC-certified contractors” that allows end users to (legally) purchase FSC-certified paper from a mill/merchant/broker and have a FSC-certified printer place the FSC label on the document. This can only be done if the following is met:

1. The paper must be shipped from the mill/merchant/broker directly to the certified printer.
2. The certified printer needs a copy of the invoice (pricing info can be blocked out).
3. The company which owns the paper (end user) must have its branding on the final printed piece.

Note: This only works for end users, not non-certified printers or print brokers.

The hi-res files have been very large for the content. Are these new labels smaller files?
This was an issue in the past and should have been rectified.

If a supplier’s status was previously listed as suspended and currently is coming up as not found, should I take that to mean they are no longer FSC rated?
Look up a certificate code or company’s name on, which is an up-to-date international database of FSC-certified companies to verify if a company is FSC certified.

How does a person verify that every stage of the papers production meets FSC standards?
Chain-of-custody certification provides a guarantee about the production of FSC-certified products and is the path taken by raw materials from the forest to the consumer. This includes all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution.

A product can only carry the FSC label or logo if the forest receives an FSC forest management certificate, and if all steps along the supply chain receive a chain-of-custody certificate. Each chain-of-custody certified company is responsible for ensuring that products are supplied from an FSC-certified source and the correct information is communicated on the invoices further down the chain.

There is an error in the download for FSC-STD-50-001 v1.2FSC Trademark Requirements for Certificate Holders PDF file. Can you make available via e-mail?
The standard is available on the FSC Canada website.

Does the label have to be printed on the file or can it just be on the invoicing, packing slips, etc.?

The FSC on-product label is optional. If your client wishes to communicate that the product is FSC-certified, both the product and the printer (or print broker) must be FSC Chain-of-Custody certified, and the FSC on-product label must be used.

Can you place a label on FSC-certified paper that you print in-house, for example a personalized certificate?
All companies involved in the production, manufacturing, processing, and trading of FSC-certified products (including in-house printers) must obtain FSC Chain-of-Custody certification in order to label products as FSC certified.

Why did FSC opt to include post-industrial fiber in the new MIX label for recycled fiber content – not just PCW?
This change pertains to both FSC Mix and FSC Recycled labels; however, this does not change the rules for eligibility for FSC labeling. The standard way to use the Mobius loop (ISO) is to combine both pre-consumer and postconsumer reclaimed material. It was becoming confusing, when another loop was added next to the label giving a bigger percentage than the one in the FSC label loop. Additional statements alongside the label about the percentage of postconsumer waste can be made.

As an envelope manufacturer, we often print envelopes in only one color, or two.  In the past, we were permitted to print in a brown or blue if that’s the only color we are printing. Will this still be permitted or will we have to add black? Often there is no printing on the back other than putting the FSC trademark on.
Labels must be printed in the standard FSC colors: black, white or “FSC green.” Alternative colors may be used if a print item does not include the standard

Are there any FSC Pure papers on the market?
No, currently there aren’t any FSC Pure papers in the North American marketplace.

If I use a FSC-certified paper, but my job is printed by a small quick-print shop, does that printer need to be certified to be able to apply the logo to the printed product?
All companies involved in the production, manufacturing, processing, and trading of FSC-certified products (including in-house printers) must obtain FSC Chain-of-Custody certification in order to label products as FSC certified.

Does the FSC label have to be used in all instances, or could we use our COC #? For example, if we have it on our website, do we need to use the full label or just the COC #?
The FSC promotional panel can be used by FSC-certified companies to promote the fact that they are certified, or to promote FSC-certified products that they manufacture.
– Certification Code (XXX-COC-######): A unique identifier given to FSC-certified companies for use on INVOICES.
– Trademark License Code (C######): A unique identifier given to FSC-certified companies for use on FSC PRODUCT LABELS and/or with the FSC logo when used promotionally.

How much does it cost (roughly) for a printer to be certified?
The cost of certification will depend on the location and size of the company or forest area. Part of the fee is paid to the certifier for the auditor’s time and the application process, and a small program fee (starting at $10/year) is paid to FSC’s International Centre. Certification for a medium-sized business can cost approximately $4,000. There are also costs associated with the annual surveillance audit that all certified companies must undergo.

Why do print brokers not have a COC number?
NOTE on Print Broker Certification:
– A print broker MUST be FSC-certified if they purchase FSC-certified paper from the merchant directly and have it delivered to a printer and want the FSC label to be applied. The broker is taking ownership of the FSC product and therefore considered within the “chain of custody.” In this situation, it is the broker that places the FSC label (and their certification code) on the document. This also means that the broker can choose to work with any printer, certified or not, since they are verifying the paper’s authenticity and labeling it.
– A print broker DOES NOT need to be FSC-certified if their printer is FSC-certified and purchases the paper from the merchant directly. The broker in this case is not taking ownership of the FSC product and therefore not within the “chain of custody.” In this situation, it is the printer that places the FSC label (and their certification code) on the document.

Registered or trademark usage question: We make FSC stock product that will sit in inventory until someone orders. If a customer orders in Southeast Asia, my product has a registered trademark going to a country, which needs a “TM” on logo. What do you do?
If the product is already produced and labeled, it does not need to be re-labeled, and can be sold with the existing trademark registration mark.

Are we still able to use the FSC logo with the Rain Forest Alliance logo?
Yes. Claims regarding qualities outside the control of FSC  (such as other environmental attributes of the product) shall be clearly separated from the FSC Trademarks as per the graphical requirements.

Is there a list of FSC-certified printers available in the Toronto area?
Yes, a list of FSC-certified printers can be found on the FSC Canada website or on the FSC US website.

What are the regulations for use of the promotional only FSC logo?
For a quick overview of FSC Labels and Promotional Logos, visit or view the new Trademark Standard (FSC-STD-50-001 V1.2) for more information.

Our families have large land tract we grow trees for timber harvesting. How expensive is it to get FSC certified for a 1,000-2,000 acre land tract?
The cost of certification will depend on the location and size of the company or forest area. Part of the fee is paid to the certifier for the auditor’s time and the application process, and a small program fee (starting at $10/yr) is paid to FSC’s International Centre. There are also costs associated with the annual surveillance audit that all certified companies must undergo. Contact an accredited certifier for an actual quote:

The Canadian and US lists of FSC-certified papers include a column for PCW.  I assume the column refers to postconsumer waste. But as it applies FSC, shouldn’t it include both pre- and postconsumer fiber?
It is very confusing. The current FSC North American paper list only includes postconsumer waste. However, July 1, 2011, there will be a new version of the paper list, which will include both pre-consumer and postconsumer waste content.

If you are having envelopes made from FSC paper, does the paper convertor need to be FSC certified?
To take legal ownership of, or to make any transformation to FSC material or products and make a FSC Claim requires Chain-of-Custody certification. Organizations not taking legal ownership of FSC-certified material or products (e.g. transport, bindery, sales agent) do not need Chain-of-Custody certification.

How do we know which label to use? For example: Cougar Opaque. The paper cartons say FSC Mix 20. The merchant website says FSC Mix 50. And the certified paper list says MS 1 or 2 and 10% PCW. Help!!!  Who should I believe?
The FSC North American Paper list is for reference purposes only. Even if a product is listed, you must verify that the paper you are using meets FSC Chain-of-Custody (FSC-STD-40-004 v2) requirements.


To listen …

If you missed “Your Guide to the New FSC Labels,” it’s not too late! Just click here to listen to the full webinar.

PART ONE of this article was presented last week in the 3-9-11 edition of the PaperSpecs e-newsletter.


A Quick Guide to understanding the new FSC labeling standard was provided by FSC Canada and may be downloaded here.

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