Eight organisations, including Greenpeace Canada, filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau Canada against the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for making misleading claims about the sustainability of its certification practices.
This case is the most recent in a trend of investigations exposing illegally logged certified timber, and consumer and legal cases brought against certification bodies. We expect increased attention on commodities and certifications going forward, especially those that will be affected by the forthcoming EU Deforestation-free products regulation
- Ecojustice filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau Canada on behalf of eight environmental organisations including Greenpeace Canada, Wildlands League, David Suzuki Foundation and Ecology Action Centre against the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
- The SFI is the largest certification system for forestry in the world and 76% (115 million hectares) of the forest certified under the Standard is in Canada.
- SFI claims that SFI-certified forests are sustainably managed, conserve nature, combat climate change, and increase the number of products on the market that have a positive impact on the planet.
- The complaint alleges that the SFI Standard does not require practices to be “sustainable,” or meet “sustainable forestry” standards, and any sustainability-related requirements set out in the Standard are vague, discretionary, and largely aspirational.
- The complaint calls for an inquiry into SFI and for SFI to
- Remove all claims of “sustainable,” “sustainability” from its public communications about the SFI Standard, and from the name of the programme itself
- Issue a public retraction of sustainability claims and an acknowledgment that certification to the SFI Standard does not certify that logging conducted under it is or will be sustainable
- Pay a $10 million donation to a conservation fund.
- As a next step the Competition Bureau Canada will review the case and determine whether to proceed.
- Certifications and life-cycle assessments used by companies as proof of their environmental credentials are increasingly being scrutinised by consumer bodies and other relevant authorities.
- Certifications are also being implicated in lawsuits where harms have occurred on certified cites. A recent example is the legal case against the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) for severe human rights abuses at a mine that went to a refiner certified by the LBMA.
Due Diligence Design produces a bi-annual Greenwashing Brief for clients in the consumer goods, energy, transport and telecoms sectors. This 70-page brief provides a detailed overview of the EU, UK and US regulatory landscape and implications. It includes monitoring of 40 cases against companies that we believe are setting the direction of travel and provides over 50 sustainability claims and terms that are being flagged as problematic by consumer authorities.