Verifying Responsible Sourcing (VRS) Collaborative

Developed an educational resource to help companies reach responsible sourcing goals, implement due diligence strategies and verify their fiber supply.

SPC Team Lead
Shea Wales, Project Associate

Overview

It is increasingly common for brands and retailers to require 100% of the fiber used in their paper and packaging to come from responsible sources. For companies new to this space, there is a need to understand why responsible sourcing is important -- and where and how companies can implement strategies to help them meet their goals.

This graphic visualizes the results of a SPC Goals database report. It illustrates how many companies of different sizes, operating in different regions and from across the supply chain have public goals and commitments aimed at responsible fiber sourcing.

Challenge

Fiber from certified forests and recycled feedstocks are often characterized as “the two” reliable sources of responsible fiber. But there are some challenges with this mindset: 

  1. Sourcing 100% of fiber from these two sources may be financially and logistically difficult because fiber from certified forests and recycled feedstocks is limited

    a. Only approximately 11% of forests globally are certified. In the United States about 13% are certified [1] [2] [3] [4] [5].

    b. Recycled fiber is a finite resource. Paper can only be recycled 5 - 7 times before it loses its integrity. Meaning, new fiber is an essential and required input into the fiber cycle [6] [7].

  2. Companies may overlook other potential responsible sources of fiber.

    a. In the United States, for example, fiber from forests that have not been certified can be a responsible source of fiber.

  3. If the larger goal is to increase the amount of responsibly sourced fiber -- This approach may disregard the large portion of paper and packaging that is manufactured using fiber from forests that have not been certified.

    a. If companies have 100% responsible sourcing goals, they will need a mechanism for verifying all the fiber contained within their packaging.

In response to these challenges, the VRS Collaborative created a guide to help companies answer the question of: “How do I verify that all of the fiber in my packaging has been responsibly sourced — including fiber from forests that have not been certified?” The guide is both an educational piece and a resource to help companies implement responsible sourcing and verify their fiber supply.

Read the VRS Guide Here
  1.  Yale School of the Environment. Global Forest Atlas: Forest Certification. Web.
  2. American Forest & Paper Association. AF&PA White Paper: Sustainable Forestry and Certification Programs in the United States. 2014.
  3.  American Forest & Paper Association. AF&PA White Paper: Sustainable Forestry and Certification Programs in the United States. 2014.  
  4.  Alvarez: US Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The State of America’s Forests: Certified Forests. 2017.
  5.  American Forest & Paper Association. Our Industry: Fun Facts. Web.
  6. NCASI. Fiber Cycle Longevity and Fresh  Fiber Requirements for the North American Paper and Board Industry. 2017.
  7.  MetaFore. The Fiber Cycle. 2006.

Co-Chairs

Thank you to our VRS Collaborative Co-Chairs and members who were instrumental in the creation of the VRS Guide. 

VRS Collaborative Co-Chairs:

Rodrigue Kreilmann

Mars Wrigley Confectionery

Chad Leatherwood

Weyerhaeuser

VRS Collaborative Members

Ahlstrom-Munsko

Catalyst

Domtar

Evergreen Packaging

Georgia-Pacific

HAVI

International Paper

Mars Inc.

McDonald’s

Packaging Corporation of America

Printpack

Quad

Sappi

Staples

Target

Washington State University

WestRock

Weyerhaeuser

Interested in learning more?

Contact:
Shea Wales, Project Coordinator, at shea.wales@greenblue.org
Tom Pollock, Associate Director
, at tom.pollock@greenblue.org

SPC Collaboratives provide an opportunity for members to connect, learn, share, and engage with each other on important sustainability challenges. For more information, visit: sustainablepackaging.org/collaboratives