By John DeFore
Of all the logos and labels that identify products as environmentally responsible, few approach the iconic status of the recycling logo, in which three turning arrows form a triangle. Now a new smartly designed logo hopes to join the triangle as a quick reference point for Green shoppers, at least when it comes to wood and paper products.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an independent entity that evolved from a 1994 industry effort to improve forestry practices, has been working to boost awareness of its seal of approval, a single green line that inscribes the shape of an evergreen tree within the outline of a leaf.
As with the recycling symbol, this one can have multiple meanings, as explained in this guide for industry participants hoping to get the stamp on their goods. It can refer to the percent of a product’s raw material (wood from sustainably managed forests, fiber recovered from other processes) that has been certified by the SFI, or to the use of fibers that are obtained through methods auditable by the group.
Unlike the sometimes ambiguously used recycling logo, this one is intended to always be accompanied by text explaining its significance. According to a SFI fact sheet, only 10% of the world’s forests are presently third-party certified; with participating corporations like Xerox and Wal-Mart, SFI hopes to change that.
(The recycling triangle can send mixed messages because whether or not the material is recyclable depends entirely on the number contained within the symbol. A “1″ or a “2″ within the symbol designates a common type of plastic that is recyclable, but the numbers 4-7 signify types of plastics and polystyrene that are not commonly recyclable.)