Industry rates forest certification schemes

PEFC scores highly for national accreditation methods, ISO compliance, transparency, in Cepi study

The forest certification scheme favoured by many European industrial owners outperforms its global, NGO-backed rival on several counts in a comparative matrix published by the European paper industry today.

Under preparation for the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) for almost a year (ENDS Daily 2 December 1999), the matrix assesses 26 national and international schemes with the aim of providing reliable information to purchasers and promoting mutual recognition. It was based on a questionnaire sent to 46 organisations worldwide, some of whom have still to reply.

The industry-backed Pan European Forest Certification scheme (PEFC) scored more highly than the competing Forest Stewardship Council over accreditation procedures at national level and transparency rules regarding public information, as well as compliance of accreditation bodies with International Standard Organisation requirements. On most other indices, such as independence and impartiality, consensus building and product labelling, the two schemes performed almost identically.

Cepi sought to play down the differences, insisting that "it was risky to compare if some schemes got more ticks and not the point of the exercise. The most important conclusion is the huge variety of certification schemes.We just want to provide information so stakeholders can make informed decisions."

Cepi stressed that the matrix was developed and supervised by independent consultants. Its own extraordinary membership of PEFC - dating back to when it was asked to advise on chain of custody procedures - had in no way influenced the outcome, and it did not support either scheme in particular, a spokesperson said. He added that FSC had praised the transparency of the matrix, and said Cepi planned further modifications over the next year.

Follow Up:
Cepi, tel: +32 2 627 4911 and matrix

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