Special Report: Paper Trails
Of course, each certification process does require financial and time investments, so being triple-certified is a major decision for suppliers. Not all paper and printing companies will opt for multiple certifications.
Without getting deep into the nitty-gritty of each program's features, what's the bottom line for direct marketers?
"The biggest thing right now is that the third-party NGOs recognize FSC more readily than they do SFI. And I think that still, from a political standpoint, is something that's fairly large out there in the minds of our customers. Until they overcome the NGO issue, I think there is still going to be reluctance for some people to go to SFI," says Chuck Fisher, manager of procurement, IWCO Direct, a direct marketing services provider in Chanhassen, Minn.
That being said, Fisher points out that he does not see a big difference between the two programs, especially now that SFI has made some changes to the chain-of-custody requirements that bring its standards closer to those espoused by FSC.
Gary Jones, manager, environmental, health and safety affairs at PIA/GATF, a leading graphic arts trade association based in Sewickley, Pa., also finds the two certifications are becoming more similar. "I think the position is that if you're going to be specifying paper from a responsibly managed forest, either one of them will work for you."
One important fact to note: FSC and SFI certifications only address virgin fiber content. "You can't have recycled fiber mixed with virgin fiber content and get that FSC or SFI certification," Jones explains.
What to Know About Certified Paper
While the good news is there are more FSC- or SFI-certified, as well as recycled, paper options available than ever before-and the market is expected to grow-demand is outpacing supply for the time being. The challenge for direct mail marketers is to plan for paper needs as far ahead as possible, advises Hickey.