Comparing PrintReleaf and Chain-of-Custody Certifications

The major differences between PrintReleaf and Chain of Custody programs, such as FSC, and how they address the impact of print production.

PrintReleaf connects printers to a network of certified reforestation projects around the world. Companies can measure their paper consumption then based on the amount of paper they use, an equivalent number of trees are automatically planted in areas where reforestation is most needed. Companies can also elect to invest in green energy projects through the PrintReleaf platform to offset carbon emissions associated with turning trees into paper. 

Chain of Custody (CoC) refers to the chronological documentation or paper trail, showing the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical or electronic evidence. CoC offers certifications that track the source of wood and paper products to ensure they come from responsibly managed forests. 

Key Differences

  1. Focus and Scope:
    • PrintReleaf focuses on offsetting paper by planting new forests or investing in green energy projects specific to, and after a print job is complete. Following guidelines from the "PrintReleaf Standard," third-party auditors evaluate forestry projects for up to 8 years and ensure 100% tree survivability. Since PrintReleaf began 10 years ago, the entire portfolio of reforestation projects has achieved 100% compliance. *PrintReleaf audits forests only, not print facilities.
    • Chain of Custody deals with the traceability of forest-based products from the forest to the final consumer, ensuring sustainable and ethical sourcing practices throughout the supply chain. All commercial printers within the supply chain undergo audits to obtain FSC certification, allowing them to label or promote products as FSC certified.
  1. Impact Transparency:
    • PrintReleaf has an online customer portal where users can view reports, certificates, and decide where they want to reforest and/or invest in carbon offsetting projects. Companies also have the option to include a PrintReleaf QR code on printed materials. This QR code enables end customers to see the amount of paper or carbon offset, as well as the number of trees planted or CO2 removed, by simply scanning the code.
    • Chain of Custody ensures compliance and adherence to environmental standards prior to printing, but does not directly measure the environmental impact of specific jobs that have been done. Therefore, FSC provides a logo to place on print jobs, but it’s static and there is no QR code to scan or online portal to share environmental impact metrics tied to paper consumption.

Overall ESG Impact

PrintReleaf and Chain of Custody (CoC) programs both have significant ESG impacts, with PrintReleaf offering distinct advantages. Environmentally, PrintReleaf excels in reforestation efforts, contributing to carbon sequestration, habitat restoration, and biodiversity conservation, while CoC ensures products are sourced from sustainably managed forests, preventing deforestation and promoting responsible land management.

Socially, PrintReleaf notably improves living conditions in local communities by enhancing soil and air quality, providing educational opportunities, and creating jobs, whereas CoC certifications generally protect the rights and welfare of workers and indigenous communities. From a governance perspective, PrintReleaf demands high levels of transparency and accountability in reporting paper usage and tree planting, ensuring businesses uphold their sustainability claims, while CoC enhances governance by requiring companies to adhere to strict monitoring and reporting systems, fostering better practices in the supply chain.

While both PrintReleaf and Chain of Custody programs like FSC mitigate the environmental impact of paper production, PrintReleaf's focus on reforestation, carbon offsetting projects, and comprehensive impact transparency offers a more direct, convenient, and measurable approach to sustainability.