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More than an official seal

The term ‘sustainability’ has its roots in forestry. After all, this is where work is done only with the renewable raw material wood. Verifications of sustainable management are now provided in many areas in the form of certificates. For Pfleiderer, these certificates are standard in all areas and are an expression of our company’s DNA.
Text: Guido Klinker Photos: Pfleiderer

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Claus Seemann, head of core materials product management, is occupied with certifications and audits almost on a day-today basis. Indeed, documenting processes and procedures has long become second nature to him. “Our customers – especially those from industry – expect appropriate standards from us”, he said. But then he hesitates briefly when asked how many people are actually occupied with the issue of certificates at Pfleiderer. Just one colleague, Kristina Zier, deals with everything to do with the PEFC and FSC certifications, one person for each plant is occupied with them, and also a few product managers. “It must be eight to ten colleagues”, he said, working it out, and is surprised. “This issue comes up in virtually all parts of the company. A great many people come into contact with it, directly or indirectly. “I wasn’t aware myself that it constitutes such a large part of so many people’s work until now.” It’s good that we have spoken about it. Claus Seemann’s surprise shows above all that certifications are part of the Pfleiderer DNA.

Claus Seemann distinguishes between the process certifications and product certifications that are regularly carried out in all the Pfleiderer locations – and that’s throughout the company – in Germany and in Poland. The certification partner is predominantly the internationally present TÜV SÜD, and sometimes we also work with regional or specific partners on individual issues. The management of quality, environment and energy are audited under ISO certifications. With product certifications it is usually a question of environmental standards that apply internationally and, in individual cases, of specific criteria such as those in the USA. In Germany, the ‘Blue Angel’ is an established environmental label. The Pfleiderer LivingBoard and DecoBoard products are distinguished with this. 

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“The audits take place every year or every two years. Many certifications, such as the ISO9001, are so established that every customer in fact assumes that we have it. Others are not so widespread and are a helpful argument for our sales team in their talks with customers”, said Mr Seemann. “At Pfleiderer we have always put a lot of effort into making extensive personnel and financial resources available, because we like to express the verifications and transparency of environmentally responsible and sustainable production in a single word – responsibility. Responsibility towards the environment, resources and employees”, stressed Dirk Hardow, COO of the Pfleiderer Group S.A. and responsible for this issue on the Executive Board.


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FSC®: Forest Stewardship Council
In 1993 this Council was founded as a result of the Environment and Development conference in Rio de Janeiro, with the objective of promoting the environmentally and socially responsible and economically viable management of forests. Pfleiderer uses certified FSC Mix and FSC controlled wood. Both materials from FSC certified forests and/or recycled material from approved sources are used in its production processes.

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PEFC™ - Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes
The PEFC™ is based on international resolutions reached at conferences that followed the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, with the objective of documenting and improving sustainable forest management in terms of economic, environmental and social standards.

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The Blue Angel
The ‘Blaue Engel’ (blue angel) has been the environmental symbol of the German government for 40 years now. More than 12,000 environmentally friendly products and services from around 1,500 companies in Germany have been distinguished with the blue angel. Pfleiderer is one of two companies whose products have been distinguished as especially low on emissions. These are DecoBoard P2 and V100 and LivingBoard and LivingBoard face P2, P4, P5 and P7.Quality seals for wood-based panels.

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Pfleiderer was the first company to receive the Premium Quality certificate for its LivingBoard products in 2016. The quality seal of the German Wood-based Panels Quality Alliance (Qualitätsgemeinschaft Holzwerkstoffe) is the first to take into consideration the limit values of the EU VOC Regulation and to monitor the criteria of the German Waste Wood Regulations.


ISO 9001 - is the quality management standard that defines a range of minimum requirements for quality management systems in order to fulfil the generally applicable quality expectations of customers and public authorities. An essential part of this standard is in the establishment of a continuous improvement process. This is intended to ensure that companies constantly strive to improve the quality they have already achieved.

ISO 14001 – is an environmental management system standard - ISO 14001 is the standard for environmental management systems that is accepted and applied throughout the world. This standard was published in 1996 by the International Organisation for Standardization and last updated in 2015.

ISO 50001 - is an energy management standard that enables companies and other organisations to systematically and continuously increase their energy efficiency. The standard applies to the factors that can be influenced by companies and can be adapted to individual requirements.

Just how much effort this is can be seen with a typical ISO certification. It begins with a voluntary pre-audit, where checks are made to see if the quality management (QM) system and the QM documentation already meet all the ISO 9001 requirements and whether certification is possible. In the certification itself, an external body checks implementation of the requirements in the quality management system. This is followed by the certification audit stage II, which is designed to check the effectiveness of the ISO 9001 quality management system and its conformity with the ISO 9001 requirements. The ISO 9001 expressly requires continuous improvement to the QM system, so an annual monitoring audit is carried out until the next re-certification. This is an effort that Claus Seemann and many of his Pfleiderer colleagues are happy to make, “as this permanent checking supports us in best meeting the requirements of our own high demands on the quality of our processes and products”. So product and process certifications are a great deal more than just a once-over check and an official seal when everything is okay. Certifications are above all proof of those values that a company stands for in terms of sustainability, environmental protection and social responsibility. As Claus Seemann puts it, “for us it means that we aspire and feel obliged to do more than we have to and are better than necessary at the same time”.
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