Verso mills get chain-of-custody certified

Posted Dec. 18, 2008, at 10:09 p.m.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — The four paper mills owned by Verso Paper Corp., including its two Maine mills in Bucksport and Jay, have achieved a third-party international chain-of-custody certification, the company announced Thursday.

The mills were independently audited and certified that they meet the chain of custody standards for the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world’s largest forest certification system. The certification assures customers that the company has procedures in place to track a piece of wood from the forest through processing and to delivery to a customer.

PEFC requires certificate holders to have adequate purchasing measures for all fiber to assure there is a low risk that certified products contain material from controversial sources such as the boreal, or far northern, forests in Canada.

Customer demand for certified paper products has grown in recent years and Verso has increased the amount of third-party certified fiber in its products, according to Craig Liska, Verso vice president for sustainability. Its goal for 2008 was 64 percent certified fiber, Liska said in press release. Mill officials in Bucksport said they were in the process of gathering data to determine whether the mills had met that goal.

Last year, the company’s four mills were certified to the Forest Stewardship Council chain of custody standards. In addition to its two Maine mills, Verso owns mills in Quinnesec, Mich., and Sartell, Minn.

“Achieving PEFC chain of custody certification this year demonstrates our continuing commitment to assure the sustainability of our own business practices and to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals,” Liska said.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental umbrella organization founded in 1999 to promote sustainably managed forests through third-party certification. The program now endorses 26 national certification systems, including three in North America, that account for more than 500 million acres of certified forests on six continents.

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