Tag Archives: FSC Certified

FAQs: What is FSC- or SFI-Certified Paper?

Since Conformer encourages all of our customers to use environmentally sustainable paper stocks, this question comes up a lot.  What does FSC-certified mean?  Is that the same thing as SFI-certified?  What’s the difference?

FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council.  This is a non-profit organization that provides a third-party certification service to the paper industry to “promote management of the world’s forests.” It ensures that your paper is coming from sustainably harvested forests, meaning that it comes from a renewable source.  According to the FSC website, “plantations must contribute to reduce the pressures on and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.”   How does it do this?  The Forest Stewardship Council has developed a Chain of Custody process — effectively, an inventory management system —  that enables you to trace your paper stock back to the tree it was harvested from, thereby ensuring it came from a sustainably managed forest.

If the manufacturer is FSC-certified as an organization, that gives them the right to placed the FSC logo on products it manufacturers.  Alternatively, if the manufacturer is not FSC-certified but simply sources FSC-certified paper stock, your sustainably harvested paper is still exactly that but cannot have the FSC-certified logo printed on it.  Both are viable and “good” options.

SFI stands for Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and it is also an independent auditor of good forestry practices.  It is simply an alternative to FSC-certification and is just as good an indicator of sustainably harvested paper stock. 

These two organizations can be greatly credited for ensuring that trees get planted on this planet by the very industry that depends on them.  There’s some unconventional wisdom at play here, but I can’t think of another industry more committed to planting trees than the paper industry.  And that’s good news for our planet.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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FAQs: Can I Afford to Buy Eco-Friendly Products?

Many of our clients are surprised to hear that eco-friendly presentation and mailing materials can cost the same or less than unfriendly materials. Unfortunately, the marketplace has been trained to assume that making eco-friendly choices comes at a price.  I’ve seen businesses eliminate (needed) materials altogether in an attempt to go green because they don’t think they have budget-friendly options.

Eco-friendly can be budget-friendly by aligning with smart buying principles:

– Buying power.  If your supplier makes a major investment in buying, let’s say Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper (more on that topic here), then the cost of that material becomes very competitive against less environmentally attractive stocks.

Economies of scale.  The Conformer portfolio made of recycled milk jug poly costs the same as buying it from virgin poly (recyclable, but not made of post-consumer recycled material).  Our base materials come from a poly extruder that specializes and extrudes milk jug poly in volume.  Then it becomes an aesthetic rather than a price-based decision.  That’s ideal.

Long-term eco-commitment of your vendors. Becoming FSC-certified is an arduous process with upfront costs. But once an organization has realigned its operations to comply with the Forest Stewardship Council’s specifications, the ongoing costs of this inventory management system become operationally streamlined.  Vendors that dabble in green products don’t achieve this cost benefit.

Buying quality products.  Durability reduces the probability that your materials become insta-trash.  In other words, if it looks like junk, it gets junked. If your presentation and mailing materials can survive the journey from the printer to storage to fulfillment to more storage to possibly mail processing to your customer’s desk — and still look good doing it — your materials will more likely be reused by your customer.  (And you get bonus points if your name is all over it.)

Tell us about your experiences sourcing eco-friendly materials on a budget, and we will gladly shine the spotlight on you here on the Conformer Products blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Northwestern University: Big Ten Conformer Fan

While I love both my children equally, occasionally one of them will do something that deserves an extra squeeze.  As far as Conformer fans go, Northwestern University gets an extra squeeze from me today.

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern started using Conformer folders last year, and not just in admissions.  As America’s #1 “marketing school,” they understand that a folder in the hands of prospective students, recruiters, alums and CEOs represents their brand to everyone coming through their doors.  Prior to Conformer, Kellogg used a laminated, reinforced folder that was as eco-friendly as a diaper in a landfill, and their need for durability came at a high cost.  Kellogg’s new Conformer folder is FSC-marked, and its strong construction eliminates all expensive reinforcement features.

Enter the Northwestern Alumni Association.  They liked the fresh look of
Kellogg’s new folder and its versatility for alumni functions.  It holds an NAA pen gracefully, and organizes multi-sized literature that used to slid around the old folder when opened.

Kellogg, Part 2.  Now using an eco-friendly folder campus-wide, Kellogg used a Conformer folder to kick off their capital campaign for a new eco-friendly building.  Conformer won a PEAK Award of Excellence for this execution.  It’s a real beauty.

Northwestern Development jumped on board as well.  Traveling many miles to meet with alums, the development folks liked the fact that a Conformer folder would arrive alive with them.  Folders looked great off the press, but were they durable enough to withstand the rigors of actual usage?  You bet!

Recently, NU’s famed Medill School of Journalism ordered the Conformer paperboard mailer.  Those smarties know that their correspondence to newly admitted students could mean the difference in converting an admitted candidate to an attending student.   Even an NU scarf fits inside.  Goodbye, ugly bubble mailer!

So extra hugs to Northwestern University today for totally and completely getting the value proposition of Conformer Products — durability, versatility, brand-friendly, and eco-friendly.  Go, Wildcats!

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Universities Are Getting Even Smarter

I’ve gotten to know a lot of folks who manage marketing communications at universities across the country.  They are in the ultimate relationship-management industry — just think of the value of each individual they come in contact with, whether it be a prospective or current student, alumnus or donor.

Increasingly, they are asked to cultivate these relationships ever more, while working with a lot less.  Plus, their constituents — particularly the students — expect environmentally sustainable products and practices.

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One of their workhorse products is the presentation folder.  And it is a workhorse in this industry more than most.  It gets stuffed full with student statistics, university highlights, the daily campus newspaper, donor cards, pens and car magnets.

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The typical university folder is over-engineered to handle the bulk, which gets expensive quickly.  And it misses out on a great opportunity to send a strong, environmentally friendly message, too.

The Conformer presentation folder solves all of these problems at once, so we have a lot of fans in the education industry.  Because the Conformer has a superior construction that is more durable and expands to fit its contents, it reduces the amount of paper needed to produce the folder and doesn’t require a custom solution either (which I often see).

Plus, the durability is put into the pockets themselves, which also eliminates the need for reinforced edges and lamination coating (which is not recyclable).  And less paper means lower cost.  Finally, Conformer uses FSC-certified paper, which means our university clients can mark their folders as originating from sustainably harvested forests.  By carefully choosing the paper stock, you don’t have to pay one cent more to get “good” paper.

So that education is really paying off.  Universities are getting smarter about the folders they’re using…they’re choosing Conformer.

The superior Conformer construction doesn’t scream out.  It just gets the job done.

The superior Conformer construction doesn’t scream out. It just gets the job done.

Inside the Conformer folder

Inside the Conformer folder

Expands to fit up to ½” paper per pocket.  Wow!

Expands to fit up to ½” paper per pocket. Wow!

by Sari McConnell smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Conformer Plastic Envelope Goes Green

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Conformer Products Uses Recycled Milk Jugs to Enhance Envelope Sustainability

Great Neck, NY, July 8, 2008 – Conformer Products has just launched its award-winning plastic envelope in 75% post-consumer material—specifically, recycled milk jugs. The recycled material enhances an already environmentally friendly product: the patented Conformer design uses up to 20% less material than standard envelopes, and the sturdy envelope can be re-used.

“The market is demanding sustainable products, and now our products are even better positioned to support corporate environmental sustainability initiatives,” said Marvin Makofsky, president of Conformer. ”In the last few months, we have introduced Forest Stewardship Council or FSC-certified paper envelopes, presentation folders and mailers, as well as paperboard mailers made from 85% post-consumer content. Now our line of plastic envelopes can be made from reclaimed milk jugs.”

“When we looked for products that would make sense to manufacture from recycled plastic materials, the Conformer envelope was at the top of the list,” said Earl Guinter, a plastics manufacturing industry veteran whose organization is licensed to make the Conformer product. “It’s a popular, versatile product that can also be easily customized.”

Sustainability has long been important at Guinter’s organization. The manufacturing plant re-uses 90% of post-industrial materials for other jobs and sells the remaining 10% for re-use in other plastic applications. “Now we are buying reclaimed milk jugs, re-extruding the plastic and using the material to make Conformer’s plastic envelopes,” he said.

One of the company’s most popular products, Conformer’s plastic envelope is a favorite among direct marketers and sales professionals because of its versatility to hold a little or a lot of content, depending on the need. The translucent material helps boost open and response rates by allowing recipients to see the contents, and the attractive design—available in eight colors, including clear—makes the envelope a popular choice for presentations.

by Bob Makofsky

www.conformerinc.com