Chain of Custody Certification


What is Chain of Custody Certification?

Chain of Custody certification from forest to end-user ensures that FSC materials and products have been checked at every stage of processing so that customers purchasing FSC labelled products can be confident that they are genuinely FSC certified. (© Elie Hakizumwami)© Elie HakizumwamiThere are two parts to the FSC system:

1. Forest Management certification, which makes sure that the forest is managed to high standards covering social, environmental and economic issues.

2. Chain of Custody certification, which traces the wood from those forests through all stages of processing and distribution.

Chain of Custody certification from forest to end-user ensures that FSC materials and products have been checked at every stage of processing so that customers purchasing FSC labelled products can be confident that they are genuinely FSC certified.


What are the benefits of Chain of Custody certification?

1. Receive public recognition for practices promoting responsible forest management.

2. Meet customer demands: UK retailers and specifiers such as local councils and architects are increasingly asking for an independent proof that products have come from responsibly managed forests.

3. Gain a competitive edge for your timber or timber/paper product.

4. Meet internal policy: certification helps companies demonstrate to customers, investors and/or themselves that they are meeting their corporate social responsibility objectives.


Who needs chain of custody?

Manufacturers - timber traders - wholesalers - importers - builders - contractors - publishers - printers - in fact, all those whose customers want to advertise products as FSC certified or say that they have brought or used certified products (for example in an annual environment report).

Any company making, changing, re-labelling or repackaging products needs to be certified to do so and any company wishing to apply any of the FSC trademarks (our name, our acronym or our logo) to products or their packaging needs to be certified.


Achieving Chain of Custody Certification

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) does not carry out forest inspections itself. That job is done by FSC accredited certification bodies. The role of FSC is to evaluate and monitor, i.e. accredit, certification bodies. Accreditation ensures that all certification bodies work to the same high standards. In effect FSC acts as an umbrella within which reputable inspection bodies can operate.

Achieving FSC Chain of Custody certification can be a quick or a lengthy process, very much depending on existing management practices and documentation systems. You are able to obtain certification through a certification body or a group scheme.  To commence the process, we advise you to get in touch with a few certification bodies as well as group schemes for a preliminary discussion to determine what you will need to do.  As they all have slightly different costs, it is worth shopping around a little.

Please click here for a list of certification bodies.
Please click here for information on small business group schemes.


What are the costs?

The costs for certification vary a lot depending on size and complexity of your business. It is very difficult to generalise and you should contact the certification bodies to get an estimate. Depending on the size of your business, you may qualify to join a small business group scheme in which case costs can be reduced as several companies are being assessed together.  As certification bodies and group schemes all have slightly different costs, it is worth shopping around a little.

Please click here for a list of certification bodies.
Please click here for information on small business group schemes.
 


What standard is used?

The FSC Standard for Chain of Custody Certification (FSC-STD-40-004 V2-1) specifies the management and production requirements for Chain of Custody control with respect to sourcing, labelling (where applicable) and sale of products as FSC certified.


Project Certification

Individual objects or buildings of any size or scale that are built or renovated on a one-off basis can achieve FSC certification through attaining FSC Project Certification, which can be used for virtually any type of new build or refurbishment, civil engineering projects, or events such as exhibitions and festivals.  Please click here for further information.


Multi-Site Chain of Custody

Multi-site Chain of Custody has been designed for larger companies that have a number of sites which share the same functions, methods or procedures. This makes use of elements of scale and thus is more economical than seeking a separate certificate for each site. Please click here for further information.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q I don’t handle the products, do I need Chain of Custody certification?
A Yes, if you take legal ownership of the products and issue invoices to your customers.

Q Do all our products have to be FSC?
A No, but you must make sure they cannot get mixed up inadvertently.

Q We will not be taking delivery of any FSC materials yet, but can we proceed with getting Chain of Custody certification?
A Yes. However, the certification body will want to come for a brief visit once you start handling or processing FSC products to make sure your systems are working properly.

Q Our raw materials are FSC Mix. Do we have to carry out a risk assessment on the supplier’s non-FSC sources?
A No. Any material supplied as FSC Mix or FSC Controlled Wood, and covered by valid certification, can go into your products without further checking.

Q Do we have to put an FSC label on our products?
A No, but they must be sold with the correct FSC claim on the sales documents. Products such as sawn timber are often not labelled.

Q. A company that is not FSC certified carries out part of one of our processing procedures - do they also need Chain of Custody certification?
A. If you want another company to carry out part of the process, such as timber treatment or print finishing, then they
can be included in the scope of your Chain of Custody certificate, provided you retain ownership of the products throughout. The products do not have to come back to you before delivery to the customer. You will need to get in touch with your certification body to include companies within the scope of your certificate.


© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000231