The beverage carton industry's requirements for paperboard are estimated at 2 million tonnes annually. With beverage cartons made of some 75% from wood fibre, a natural renewable resource, there is a need to secure long-term supplies. ACE members have a vested interest in responsible management of the forests where the raw materials for their products are sourced.
Traceability is one of industry's most important strategic means to combat illegal logging and to avoid using unacceptable sources of wood. In 2007, ACE members Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak initiated a global voluntary sector commitment on wood traceability.
The commitment outlines a system to ensure 100% chain-of-custody certification:
The companies imposed strict criteria for acceptable wood fibres:
The systematic use of standards established by universally recognised and accepted schemes such as FSC or PEFC, certification or independent verification by accredited auditors, and the third-party review under ACE provides good assurance of achieving the purpose of the commitment.
The initiative contributes to protecting and improving the quality of the environment, and specifically to the fight against illegal logging. It has received endorsement and recognition from the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, and environmental NGOs. The industry is also keen to set examples of good environmental stewardship and entice all players in the sector to follow the lead given by ACE member companies and protect some of the world's most vulnerable regions.
The first report on the commitment sets the baseline performance level attained by the three companies at the end of 2007. It found that 47% of the wood fibres used as raw materials by the companies had been certified according to the FSC standard for forest management or the one for 'controlled wood'. In addition, three out of the 54 manufacturing plants were certified to comply with the FSC chain-of-custody standard at that time.
The latest report for 2015 showed that 100% of liquid packaging board purchased by ACE beverage carton manufacturers now meet the ACE definition of legal and acceptable sources. The percentage of paper mills with a FSC certification has increased from 6% in the first year of reporting in 2007 to 100% in 2015. Since January 2015 all of the converting plants operated by the three ACE members (51 plants) have been certified and now meet the ACE commitment of securing chain-of-custody certification for all beverage carton manufacturing plants by 2018.
Within Europe, 100% of the wood used in the paperboard used by Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak to make the cartons comes from paper mills that have an FSC certified chain-of-custody in place. This means that all wood in Europe is fully traceable when it leaves the paper mills. When all converting plants (beverage carton manufacturing plants) will be fully certified in Europe, this traceability will be fully proven down to the carton itself.
The worldwide industry commitment is subject to an annual review by Proforest, an independent verifier of forest supply chain practices. The annual progress report by Proforest is published on ACE's website.
Chain-of-custody is a traceability system to ensure that wood comes from controlled and acceptable sources and ensures traceability throughout the value chain. It is defined by FSC as 'the path taken by raw materials, processed materials or finished products from the forest to the consumer including each stage of transformation, manufacturing, storage and transport where progress to the next stage involves a change of ownership of the materials or products'.