PACKAGING specialists based in Cricklade have been recognised for their eco-friendly efforts to use material from sustainable forests.

Corrugated packaging specialists GWP achieved the Forest Stewardship Council's Chain of Custody certification, which verifies that their products come from well-managed forests which are certified in accordance with the strict rules of the organisation.

The award means that the Wiltshire-based manufacturers can offer their customers FSC-certified transit packaging, e-commerce boxes and point-of-sale displays.

GWP Packaging sales director David Mason said: “There has been an increasing demand amongst our customer base for packaging that is more environmentally sound, from companies both large and small alike.

“By achieving the FSC certification it not only publicly demonstrates our commitment to environmental best practice - by sourcing all of our paper for our packaging from well managed forests – but also complements the wide range of other initiatives we have been implementing over the last five years.”

The FSC framework allows the tracking of products derived from forests – which, in GWP’s case, is the corrugated cardboard material they use to manufacture their customers’ packaging – through an independently-verified 'chain of custody' certification.

Helpfully, the vast majority of material the company uses comes from FSC-certified manufacturer Corrboard which is part-owned by GWP and six other packaging suppliers.

But the company, which celebrates 30 years in business this year, still needed to establish stringent procedures and conduct a thorough audit of its’ supply chain to ensure all the criteria were met.

Managing director Ruth Cook said: “As we knew the material we use is from FSC approved sources, and we already have the ISO 14001 environmental standard in place, the logical next step was to become FSC certified ourselves.

“Achieving this at GWP shows that, once again, we recognise our responsibility as packaging manufacturers to minimise the environmental impact of the products we supply to our customers.”

Its other environmentally-friendly decisions include using cardboard alternatives to products such as plastic reels and foam packaging, as well as having a design team that specialises in innovative ways of reducing material usage.

The company has extensive waste collection and recycling procedures at its manufacturing sites and saved more than 100 tonnes of C02 emissions since installing LED lighting throughout their premises.

Two of the partners in Corrboard – the corrugator part-owned by GWP Group – have invested £5.5m in the creation of a sustainable energy generation facility fuelled by organic waste. This anaerobic digester is the first of its’ type in the UK.

Established in 1993, and supported by WWF, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust, the Forest Stewardship Council has certified approximately 213 million hectares of forests worldwide (accounting for 11 percent of all productive forests globally). Around 40 percent of the UKs’ forests are now certified by the FSC.

Established in 1990, the GWP Group now operates out of 2 manufacturing sites in Cricklade and Salisbury, employing more than 100 staff and with a turnover of £13 million.