Wednesday, 23 October 2013
“Good partners can discuss”: FSC engages with the private sector at ‘In Good Company’
‘In Good Company’ is FSC International’s annual global conference to engage with the private sector. This year’s event, held on October 10–11 in Copenhagen and hosted by FSC Denmark, attracted over 200 participants from FSC’s global network, including international businesses and NGOs. The conference focused on working strategically with corporate social responsibility, and branding through environmental labeling.
The two-day event featured an exciting range of speakers and panelists, among them representatives of the Fairtrade Foundation, Kimberly-Clark, the LEGO Group, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), Greenpeace, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola and HSBC. All sessions included open debates and plenty of discussion, and the event was streamed live and could be followed on Twitter.
In one session, the Environmental Director of the LEGO Group, Jes Faltum, explained how the company has implemented a policy aimed at making their packaging more sustainable. The three-step policy comprises a reduction in the size of product packaging, an increased use of recycled fibers, and the use of FSC certified fiber for all wood-based LEGO branded paper and packaging, including brand catalogues and in-store displays. Faltum explained how the company came to select FSC: “In 2011 we concluded FSC was the best fit for us. WWF advised us, and we liked the fact that FSC is perceived to be the gold standard in forest management certification. It was also important to us that Greenpeace is a member of FSC.”
Discussions of Faltum’s presentation focused on the importance of enrolling suppliers in such a new policy. David Byrtus of Model Holding AG, which supplies packaging materials to the LEGO Group, explained how his company was able to deliver 86 percent of packaging with FSC certification to LEGO within a year of the policy being implemented. “It was not complicated to implement FSC certification,” says Byrtus. “The challenge was to find certified suppliers.” But Model Holding was able to meet LEGO Group’s time frame by engaging with and convincing their existing suppliers to become FSC certified.
Another highlight of the conference was a session entitled ‘No Permanent Friends, No Permanent Enemies’, in which NGO collaborations and confrontations with the corporate sector were discussed. Daniel Mittler, Political Director of Greenpeace International, presented the organization’s rationale for campaigning against companies involved in environmentally unfriendly practices. “We do a hell of a lot of research,” he says, “and look for where we can have influence by identifying leverage points for change.” But Mittler made it clear that Greenpeace does not only criticize companies. “We are absolutely ready to praise you when you do the right thing.” Mittler says, adding that “Good partners can discuss.”
At the end of the conference, participants were offered a choice of field trips. While some visited the flagship store of classic Danish design producers Frederica Furniture, others went to see the FSC certified forests of Sӧdra in southern Sweden.
‘In Good Company’ is an important moment each year for FSC to engage with its market partners and other stakeholders. Marcelle Peuckert, Director of Business Development at FSC International, says “For FSC it is extremely valuable to hear from clients on what is happening in the market and what challenges companies are facing. If we want to achieve our mission to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests, we need to listen to our business partners and have open discussions.”
Other conference sessions focused on consumer awareness and branding, NGO–business collaborations, media coverage and FSC certification, and branding.